Last original member of The Dubliners dies

Barney McKenna, banjo player with veteran folk group the Dubliners, has died.

Barney McKenna, banjo player with veteran folk group the Dubliners, has died.

The 72-year-old was the last remaining member of the original line-up of the group, renowned worldwide for their raucous sound.

McKenna, known affectionately as Banjo Barney, was among current members of the band playing two 50th anniversary homecoming concerts in Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral in January.

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.”

A clearly emotional Sheahan said he felt he should be sympathising with others.

“People have been phoning me sympathising, but I feel I could just as easily be sympathising with them,” he said.

“I think it’s a kind of universal loss, I think everybody is going to miss him hugely.

“We are all very sad.”

It is understood McKenna collapsed at his home this morning and was later pronounced dead at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin.

He was among the latest line-up of the Dubliners, who had recently finished the 12-gig UK leg of their 50th anniversary tour, including dates in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Cardiff.

They also toured Switzerland in February.

Other late members Ronnie Drew, Ciaran Bourke and Luke Kelly, who have died since the band famously formed in the snug of O’Donoghue’s pub on Merrion Row in 1962, were remembered during emotional scenes at the gigs.

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