Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tributes to Banjo Barney

Barney McKenna, member of The DublinersBarney McKenna, member of The Dubliners (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Irish president Michael D Higgins has led tributes to folk musician Barney McKenna, the last surviving member of The Dubliners, who has died, aged 72.

A renowned banjo player, McKenna – affectionately dubbed Banjo Barney – passed away yesterday morning in his beloved Dublin, after collapsing at his home in Howth.

He was the last remaining member of the original line-up of The Dubliners, celebrated worldwide for their revival of Irish folk songs, their raucous sound and their hell-raising.

Mr Higgins, a friend of McKenna, said he had made a major contribution to music and song throughout his life, and above all to the banjo as an instrument.

“His influence on and generosity to other instrumentalists was immense,” he said.

The president recalled McKenna’s “huge commitment” to the Irish abroad as well as at home, and the band’s popularity in Britain, where The Dubliners played a packed Albert Hall in 1967 and again more than four decades on last month.

Fiddler John Sheahan, who joined The Dubliners just two years after it was formed in 1962, said McKenna’s death would be a universal loss.

“He was one of these unique characters,” he said.

“He was like a brother to me, as were the other former members of The Dubliners. Over the years we became very much a family, I suppose, in our own right.

“He’ll be a huge loss to everybody.”

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