Born: December 25th, 1929
Died: March 5th, 2023
Asked once how he could call himself a communist while living in a fine big house on Dublin’s salubrious Lansdowne Road, Arthur Reynolds replied, with a laugh, “Because I want everyone to live in a fine big house.” Reynolds, who has died aged 93, had lifelong communist sympathies but he enthusiastically embraced private enterprise from his earliest years. As a student at St Patrick’s Cathedral Grammar School in Dublin, he sold minnows to angling shops, expired light bulbs to a factory in Bray, gull eggs to restaurants and horse manure to Dublin gardeners. During a long career working for The Irish Times, he built and sold three houses, and founded two successful magazines, the Irish Skipper and Ireland Afloat.
The Irish Skipper, which Reynolds launched in 1964, began as a one-man enterprise, fuelled by his indomitable energy, love of the sea and passionate advocacy for the exploitation of Ireland’s marine resources for the benefit of the Irish people. Initially Reynolds wrote most of the content himself, under different bylines, often during the slack hours of a night shift as a subeditor on The Irish Times. If a reader complained about a specific article, he would promise to sack the offending writer immediately.
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Reynolds used his platform to oppose Ireland’s decision to join the European Union in 1973, believing that the accession terms disadvantaged Irish fisheries. He visited 56 countries for marine research over a quarter of a century before selling on his magazine. Known today simply as The Skipper, it is the leading commercial fishing publication in Ireland and the UK. His contribution to the Irish marine industry was recognised in 1996 by his appointment to the board of the Irish Sea fisheries board, BIM.
Reynolds’s other passion in life was The Irish Times, where he was subeditor and night editor. He wrote extensively on marine affairs and contributed an occasional Irishman’s Diary and material for the “Y” column of former editor Douglas Gageby. He loved the paper and was a mentor to new arrivals. Long after he retired, he eagerly sought news about its welfare and personalities. Reynolds also contributed to RTÉ Radio 1, including Sunday Miscellany, and wrote on maritime issues for Ireland of the Welcomes and the French maritime journal, Le Chasse-Marée.
Arthur Noel Reynolds was born in Leeson Street, Dublin, on Christmas Day, 1929, the only son of an Irish mother and an English father – an electrical engineer who introduced several innovations to Ireland, including X-ray. At St Patrick’s, his lifelong involvement in leftwing politics began under the influence of his teacher, Dr John de Courcy Ireland, the radical politician and marine biographer who later in life would instil in Arthur a passion for the sea. After a year studying art and sculpting at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Reynolds moved to London and immersed himself in politics. He became secretary of the Hampstead branch of the Communist Party and a member of the Connolly Association, sold advertising for (and once edited) the communist Daily Worker, and agitated at Hyde Park Corner for the return of the Hugh Lane paintings to Ireland.
In 1954 Reynolds married Stephanie Rayner, whom he met through their shared ideological interests. The couple moved to Dublin with Stephanie’s daughter, Anne, and they had a son, Fintan. While embarking on a long career in Irish journalism, Reynolds found time to join the Irish Labour Party and report on Irish affairs for the Soviet news agency Tass as its first – and last – Irish correspondent. He was succeeded by Russian staff journalists but Arthur maintained he was dropped by Tass for writing about the prostitutes who inhabited his Moscow hotel.
After divorce from Stephanie in 1968, Reynolds was married for a short time to the museum curator Mairéad Dunlevy and became a keen art collector. Known affectionately to friends as “the Skipper”, he sailed extensively with his new partner and lifelong friend, the journalist Lorna Siggins, on one occasion in 1995 circumnavigating Ireland together in his yacht Gulliver for an Irish Times series. He was an early member of Dún Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club.
In his 80s, his enthusiasm for life and adventure undimmed, Reynolds married Borghild Lieng, a city councillor in Bergen, Norway, with whom he undertook several merry sea voyages on the Norwegian sail training ship, Statsraad Lehmkuhl. They settled in Bergen where Arthur, typically, made himself knowledgeable about the Norwegian oil and fishing industries. Borghild died suddenly in February 2021. Reynolds spent his last two years in Rosepark Independent Living in Blackrock, where he gave Sunday storytelling sessions. Arthur Reynolds is survived by his son Fintan, stepdaughter Anne (Childs), grandchildren Jessica, John, Katherine and Stephanie, and godson Cian Siggins.