Barney was born in the Donnycarney district of Dublin on 16 December 1939. His parents are both from Ulster and share a strongly musical background. Barney's entire life has been involved with music. He went to the local school. Because of his poor eyesight he was turned down for the Irish No. 1 Army Band. He earned his living as a navvy for a time before joining up with Ronnie to play around Dublin in clubs and on stage.
If music is his first love, then sea fishing must rank as his second. When not involved in working with the Dubliners then the odds are that he will be found happily messing about with boats in the Irish Sea.
He married his Dutch wife Joka (nee Oldert) in Dublin in 1965. Joka had come to Ireland to work for a time. She met Barney in Howth, the small fishing village where in time they were to make their home.
Barney enjoys his food, so when one morning during this year's spring tour of Germany he failed to appear for breakfast it caused some comment from his colleagues. When he was eventually with them Jim remarked that he must have had a good sleep, for he, Jim, had heard him snoring when passing the room. 'Oh it was a fantastic sleep' said Barney. 'I never batted an eyelid'.
source: The Dubliners Scrapbook
Barney McKenna, the last surviving founding member, passed away, on April 5th, at the age of at the of 71.