Barney McKenna, the last surviving member of the original Dubliners lineup, died around lunchtime yesterday in Dublin. McKenna, along with Ronnie Drew, Luke Kelly, and Ciarán Bourke, began the Ronnie Drew Ballas Group, 50 years ago this year, 1962, as the folk revival was blossoming. Drew’s unhappiness with the name, and Luke Kelly’s reading The Dubliners by James Joyce, led to the name change. Ever since, The Dubliners has enjoyed a large and devout following. Many of the songs I know, even ones that my granddad taught me, I know because of the Dubliners. They, along with the Clancy Brothers, and numerous others, reminded the Irish and Irish diaspora what a rich treasure we have in our musical heritage.
Amongst his many contributions to traditional Irish Music, Barney championed the GDAE (violin, mandolin) tuning of the tenor banjo (usually CGDA) in Irish music.