McGuckin, (Bartholomew) Barton (1852–1913), tenor, was born in Dublin on 28 July 1852, the son of Anthony McGuckin (d. 1895) of Kilkenny, registrar of Mercer's Hospital, Dublin, between 1875 and 1895. He received his early musical education while a chorister at St Patrick's Church of Ireland cathedral, Armagh, as pupil of the organist Robert Turle (1804–77), with whom he studied singing, violin, organ, and piano. In 1871 he moved back to Dublin and became first tenor in the choir of St Patrick's cathedral and a pupil of the cathedral organist Joseph Robinson (qv). At the same time he embarked on a teaching career, styling himself ‘Professor of Music’; he lived at 7 Camden Street Upper.
McGuckin's first professional singing engagement was in 1874 at a Dublin Philharmonic Society concert; this was followed by his London debut at the Crystal Palace Concerts on 5 July 1875. Further study was undertaken in Milan under singing maestro Trevulsi, which was followed by another Crystal Palace concert on 28 October 1876. Two years later McGuckin was invited to sing at the French Exhibition in Paris. That same year he embarked on a career as an opera singer when he joined the fledgling Carl Rosa Opera Company. He made his stage debut with Carl Rosa in Birmingham on 10 September 1878 and remained with the company as a regular performer in London and in the provinces until 1887. Though touring for several months of the year he maintained a London home at 85 Park Street, near Grosvenor Square. McGuckin took over from the previous Carl Rosa leading tenor Joseph Maas and sang the title roles in many operas, including ‘Carmen’, ‘Faust’, ‘Il trovatore’, ‘Maritana’, and ‘The Bohemian girl’. He also created new operatic roles in English, as in ‘Lohengrin’ and ‘Tannhäuser’. In May 1883 McGuckin took part in the first broadcast of opera in Ireland; during a visit of the Carl Rosa Company to Dublin, a telephone device was connected from the auditorium of the Gaiety Theatre to an adjacent room, where a large crowd listened to him singing in ‘Il trovatore’.
During 1887 and 1888 McGuckin toured America and Australia, establishing a parallel career as a concert tenor while continuing operatic performance. In April 1888 he joined with the National Opera Company of New York to sing in the Academy of Music, performing in ‘Tannhäuser’and ‘Lohengrin’. In 1889 he rejoined the Carl Rosa Opera Company, reestablishing himself as one of its leading tenors. He toured throughout the United Kingdom, performing in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dublin, and Belfast. His performances with the Carl Rosa Company at the Court Theatre in Liverpool were conducted by Sir Charles Hallé. During these eight years with the company McGuckin again created new roles: on 8 October 1892 he took the title role of Otello in the first performance of Verdi's opera in English; this was in the Prince's Theatre in Manchester. The following year he brought this same role to Belfast and Dublin theatres. In 1891 he sang the title role of Ivanhoe in the first revival of Sullivan's opera. McGuckin also sang at the Drury Lane, Her Majesty's, and the Covent Garden theatres in London, performing in front of Queen Victoria in Auber's ‘Fra Diavolo’. At this time he maintained a family home in London, at 40 Finchley Road, St John's Wood.
In addition to appearing on stage and in concert McGuckin sang in oratorio and was a frequent performer at provincial festivals and at London's ‘Popular Concerts’. He was also in demand as a singer at social events, notably for the royal family at a private gathering in Buckingham Palace in June 1883. In Ireland he acquired a popular reputation as a singer of ballads, in particular for his sentimental renderings of Moore's Melodies. And during the 1890s he was engaged by the Kilkenny-born music impresario H. B. Phillips (qv) to perform in the series of ‘Phillips Concerts’ in Dublin, Cork, Belfast, and Derry.
McGuckin retired from the operatic stage in late 1896 but continued to engage in a variety of musical activities. He performed at concerts throughout Ireland, and for a time opened a singing school in Dublin and produced opera at the Theatre Royal. By 1901 he had moved back to London and was living at 30 Lauderdale Mansions, Paddington, and was again pursuing a teaching career. But McGuckin did not sever his links entirely with performance or the theatre. On 8 March 1905 he was the first Irish singer to make a phonograph recording (of Thomas Moore's (qv) ‘Avenging and bright’). In 1907 he was appointed musical director of the Irish International Exhibition, held in Dublin, where he organised the musical programme and conducted a series of concerts. Following this he was engaged as conductor of the Dublin Amateur Operatic Society for a brief period. McGuckin's final employment was during 1911 and 1912, when, upon his return to London, he was music librarian for Oscar Hammerstein at the London Opera House.
McGuckin married Maria (Marie) Amelia Hume (b. 1859) on 29 November 1879 in St Saviour's church, Paddington. She was born in Grange Road, Edinburgh, the fourth daughter of Robert Hume, a wealthy master plumber and builder; her mother was Anna Hill. Barton and Marie McGuckin had two sons and a daughter: Alma Siebel (b. 1880), Noel (b. 1883) and Leo (b. 1890). Noel was taught singing by his father and performed under the stage name Noel Fleming; he became a well-known actor and singer in Australia. Barton McGuckin died suddenly 17 April 1913 from heart failure at his home in Stoke Poges.