Dubliners banjo player Barney McKenna 1939-2012

By | Published on Tuesday 10 April 2012

Barney McKenna

Barney McKenna, the last surviving member of the original line-up of The Dubliners, has died. He passed away suddenly on Thursday after collapsing in the kitchen of his home in Howth, County Dublin.

Originally known as The Ronnie Drew Ballad Group, The Dubliners formed in 1962, soon after switching to their more famous name, taken from the James Joyce collection of short stories, ‘Dubliners’. Their big break came the following year when they performed at the Edinburgh Festival and were asked to appear on BBC programme ‘Hootenany’, which in turn helped them to gain a record contract with Transatlantic Records.

McKenna had been a full time member of the band for 50 years at the time of his death, the longest serving and last remaining member of the original line-up and recently performed two 50th anniversary shows with the band in Dublin in January. He was due to begin a tour of Denmark with the band next week.

Dubliners guitarist Eamonn Campbell told The Irish Times: “I can’t come to terms with the suddenness of it. He was unique, there will never be another Barney. He was very droll man and great company. You’d never know what he’d come out with next. He was just a great guy. My favourite song that he sang was ‘I’m A Man You Don’t Meet Every Day’ and that was true about Barney”.

McKenna is survived by his partner Tina, his brother and sister Séan and Marie, plus several nephews and nieces.