An Obstacle Confusion: The Wonderful World of Barney McKenna


About the book

Barney McKenna, ‘Banjo Barney from Donnycarney’, was one of the founder members of The Dubliners. But Barney McKenna was also famous for another reason: he was capable of bringing any conversation to a sudden stop by uttering something so completely unexpected, and at the time so incomprehensible, as to reduce everyone present to a bemused silence.

An Obstacle Confusion, compiled by the late Jim McCann, is a collection of Barney stories – Barneyisms – which are told and swapped with great relish. When ill health put an end to Jim's singing career, he decided that this would be an ideal way to use his newfound free time – to try and bring as many of these wonderful flights of fancy as possible together in one place. This book is for those who are already dyed-in-the-wool Dubliners fans, and for who Barney's name immediately conjures up the image of the burly, bearded banjo genius who dazzled the audience with his virtuosity while charming them with his folksy, no-nonsense personality.


About the Author and illustrator

Jim McCann was a member of The Dubliners between 1974 to 1979, before he embarked on a successful solo career. He returned to The Dubliners for their 2002 reunion tour, but he had been seriously ill with throat cancer in recent years. An Obstacle Confusion is a collection of Jim's memories of things that happened concerning Barney McKenna and his funny ‘Doings’ when they were on tour. Jim McCann passed away in March 2015.

Wendy Shea, a long-time friend of Barney McKenna and illustrator of An Obstacle Confusion, studied at the National College of Art and has worked for The Sunday Independent, Irish Independent, Irish Press, Sunday Tribune and The Irish Times. Wendy also worked on Richard’s Cork Leg, which featured The Dubliners and toured widely, being transferred to the Royal Court Theatre in London. Wendy has illustrated for Gordon Snell on various publications and collaborated with Maeve Binchy on Aches and Pains.