Category Archives: Ireland

The Banjos Go Silent

I’ve just learned that Barney McKenna, the last original member of the Dubliners, died on the 5th of April. This comes only a week or so after the death of Earl Scruggs.

The banjo in their hands was an insturment of excellence, and both of them were gentlemen cut from old cloth. The more my own years accumulate, the more I’ve come to appreciate the culture of my ancestors, some Appalachian and some Celtic (do I repeat myself?), people who wanted to be free to live their hard lives as they pleased. Their music comes from that life, songs of love and loss and resistance, songs of joy and jesting, and all the while, songs of determination.

Put on some tunes from Scruggs and McKenna, pour yourself a shot of Bourbon or a pint of plain, and lift a glass to these two great musicians and human beings.