Rayner O’Connor Lysaght (1941–2021)

Rayner O’Connor Lysaght, who regularly attended events organised in Connolly Books, passed away on 2 July 2021 in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, after a prolonged illness. His funeral took place at Glasnevin crematorium, the coffin draped with the Starry Plough flag. Because of illness, Áine, his wife of forty-eight years, could not attend the funeral.

Rayner was born into an affluent family in Cardiff on 30 January 1941. He was the eldest son of Arthur Lysaght, a surgeon, and Jacqueline, leader of the Conservative Party in South Wales.

While a student in Trinity College, Dublin, along with Seán Edwards (CPI), Rayner became interested in left-wing politics. He graduated in 1964 with honours in modern history and political science.

He became a member of the left-wing National Progressive Democrats and worked in Noël Browne’s re-election campaign in 1961, then joined the Labour Party in 1965 after Noël Browne had done so.

In May 1967 he left Dublin for London, where he became involved with the Irish Workers’ Group, a decision that would change his life for ever. The membership of the IWG included such figures as Eamonn McCann, Phil Flynn, and Máirín Keegan, who introduced Rayner to her sister Áine, whom he married in 1973.

It is worth noting that as secretary of the IWG he played a major role in dissolving the group. Subsequently, in 1972, he founded the Revolutionary Marxist Group, the Irish section of the Fourth International.

However, it is not for his sixty years of political activism that Rayner Lysaght will for ever be remembered but as the author of The Irish Republic, published in 1970 and regarded as an important Marxist work, and The Story of the Limerick Soviet (1979).

Like the late Tom Redmond, Rayner enjoyed the company of younger activists and, in the same way as Tom, inspired them in demanding equity for the working class.