The death yesterday of folk musician Barney McKenna marks the end of an era. With his passing the last of the original Dubliners is no longer with us -- John Sheehan, still hale and hearty, joined the band in 1964, two years after the band's formation.
Half a century later, when traditional Irish and folk music have both entered the musical mainstream, it is hard to recall the revolutionary impact the Dubliners have had on the music scene.
They helped raise the status of traditional Irish music at a time when it was threatened with extinction and played a major role in the international revival of folk music.
Barney and his colleagues in the Dubliners helped us appreciate the richness of our indigenous musical heritage.
They showed us that what had previously been scorned was intrinsically valuable.
The legacy of the Dubliners lies not just in their performances and recordings but in the example they provided to a whole generation of Irish traditional and folk musicians.
Suddenly it seemed as if the entire world wanted to listen to Irish music.
We should all be grateful to Barney and the other members of the Dubliners. It is thanks to them and those whom they inspired that our musical heritage has been preserved.
Ar dheis De go raibh a hanam.