Farewell to The Dubliners’ Barney McKenna

Today, I found out that the last of the founding members of The Dubliners, and thereby the one who has been with the group the longest, has passed away. I can’t relate to the maker of a guitar amp, although Mr. Marshall’s contribution to musicians everywhere is admirable, and I’ve never really heard more than Hey Hey We’re The Monkees to feel other than “aww, well, sorry for his family and friends” about Davy Jones’s passing a month or so ago … and I’ve not said more about Whitney Houston’s death than reviewing The Bodyguard.

The Dubliners is different. They’re probably my favourite Irish folk band, for starters, and they’re legendary. We had the chance to see them last year when they were in Nottingham. They were back again this year, for the 50th Anniversary Tour in March, and I was really torn, because I really wanted to go and see them, and on the other hand, we saw them the year before, and we also had other plans for that evening. So we didn’t end up going.

Last year, the opportunity to see them presented itself (“The Dubliners? In Nottingham? For real? That’s it, I’m getting tickets!”) and I didn’t just want to see them because they’re the freakin’ Dubliners, but because they aren’t getting any younger, and you never know if you’re going to have the chance to see them again.

Barney McKenna passed away yesterday, aged 72.

He suffered several health problems in the last few years, but his death was still sudden. He passed away peacefully at his home in Howth, County Dublin. (See Irish Times or Spinner for more details.)

Known both for his wit as well as his banjo playing, he will be sorely missed by fans of both The Dubliners and of Irish folk music in general, no doubt. My condoleances to his family, friends and to the rest of the band. To Barney – thank you for the music and for all the joy you’ve brought us all over the years. Through that, you will live on amongst us mortals.

If I believed in the concept of heaven (and hell), I’d say there’s a lot more craic up there now, with the whole band assembled. Keep that music flowing – you truly were men we don’t meet every day.

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