Barney McKenna was born in 1939 and became a master at the banjo at a young age. He very nearly could have become one of the Chieftains after a short time playing with Paddy Maloney and Martin Fay, but history was to dictate that he became a founding member of the traditional Irish Band the Dubliners, together with Ronny Drew and Luke Kelly and later joined by John Sheehan and Ciaran Bourke.
McKenna was a character with a wit as sharp as a double edged sword. During the course of the Dubliners career they played all across the world and managed to get to no five in the British charts with “seven Drunken nights”. The Genius banjo player died on the 5th of April in the middle of his 50th year as a member of the Dubliners. True to his affable nature he was said to be having a morning cup of tea with a friend when his head fell on his chest and he finally joined his fellow band members who had all passed away before him, Kelly in 1984, Bourke in 1988 and Drew in 2008. Ireland may have lost one of her great musicians but we still have many a man and woman who know how to play a great session. In Dublin pubs such as the Cobblestone in Smithfield, The Stags Head off Dame Street and The Brazen Head in the Liberties have such spontaneous Trad Sessions which can make a historic night in Dublin.