Remembering Barney McKenna 1939-2012, By Steve Noon

Irish Tenor Banjo icon Barney McKenna aged 72, passed away unexpectedly at his Dublin home on Thursday morning, 5th April 2012. Within days of the world losing bluegrass banjo legend Earl Scruggs the world has now lost the most influential Irish Tenor Banjo player of modern times. Barney was a founding member of the famous Dubliners folk band, and the last original member still performing and touring with the band in 2012. Barney’s on stage banjo solos are world renown, audiances at the Dubliners concerts would call out for Barney to perform his solos the world over, and when he played his banjo solos he was infectious! Barney was also a fine player and a master of the one row ‘D’ melodeon.

As an enthusiastic Irish tenor banjo player myself, I can say that I have had the pleasure over the years of watching Barney perform with the Dubliners, I met him at the Irish Music awards and most recently in September 2011 at the Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival, Longford, Ireland . He was a wonderful human being, genuinely expressing his kind thoughts  and feelings for everyone in his presence, always keen to talk ‘banjo’ and pass on his experience.

After his ‘Greengrass meets Bluegrass’ performance with the Carter Brothers at the tenth anniversary of The Johnny Kennan Banjo Festival, my wife Joan and I spent some quality time with Barney. He played banjo for us,  told us jokes and stories, he was on great form at the festival. I have attached some photograghs in memory of Barney, we loved him and shall miss him dearly. Our thoughts are with Tina and his family, may he rest in peace.

Steve Noon, Owner, Eagle Music





















4 thoughts on “Remembering Barney McKenna 1939-2012, By Steve Noon

  1. chas quickfall

    Hi Steve,
    what lovely words, i too have been a long time fan of Barney and the dubliners.The Dubliners toured here in Grimsby Last year and i was fortunate to get my Dubliners song book ( 30 years old ) signed by the band of course Barney’s is my most reasured signature. I dont know if the Dubliners can survive this blow ,and if they do who will replace banjo Barney !!

  2. Dave Owen

    Hi Steve,

    Dad and I were at the bar in the Liverpool Philharmonic hall, when in walked Barney with the Dubs, Barney gave us 5 mins of his time, certainly will never forget those 5mins, what a Gentleman. He will never be replaced, but we think Gerry O’connor would do a great job of keeping the energy and spirit in the solo slots. Rip Barney.

    Dave Owen (Sons of clogger)

  3. Steve Noon Post author

    Hi Dave, Thank you for your comments …Yes, Barney was a top man and great musician. Gerry is also a friend in Irish music, and I can agree with you that his passion for the music, amazing precise banjo pickin! energy and spirit will most certainly keep the flag flying around the world for the great Irish tenor banjo players, All the best, Steve

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