The death has taken place in London after a long illness of former NUJ president and organiser Kyran Connolly. A hugely popular figure in NUJ activities of all sorts, Kyran is survived by his sister and twin brother.
In addition to his many years as a lay activist in the union, Kyran had also worked as a full-time NUJ organiser.
More than a hundred people attended Kyran's funeral Mass and cremation in West London on February 28. In addition to many NUJ members, others who joined the family at the events to mark the death of a much-loved comrade included representatives of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, of which Kyran was an enthusiastic supporter, and activists from the trade union movement in London and beyond.
Last year, despite being ill with cancer, Kyran attended the union's delegate meeting in Newcastle as a delegate from his beloved Book branch. The warmth of his reception from fellow-delegates reflected the deep affection the NUJ felt for Kyran, a multi-faceted individual whose sense of fun often disguised his considerable intellectual achievements.
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: "Kyran had been receiving treatment for cancer for some time. But he was delighted despite ill health to be able to get to the delegate meeting in Newcastle as part of the Book branch delegation and see so many of his old friends and comrades – and I think everyone who got to spend time with him at DM realised just how much he enjoyed himself! He'll be much missed by his many friends and comrades in the NUJ."
Despite his many years living in London and other places across the globe, Kyran remained a Dubliner at heart, with a profound interest in Irish culture and language as well as the Irish and world labour movement.
NUJ Irish secretary Seamus Dooley said: "Kyran was enormously proud of his Dublin roots and was a regular visitor to his native city.
"He would inevitably call in to the NUJ Irish office and contact his old friends and comrades. When possible he would visit a branch meeting or drop in to the Cle club for a music session.
"Kyran was passionate about the NUJ and as president led a protest outside Dublin District Court when then Irish Independent journalist Liz Allen faced prosecution under the Official Secrets Act.
"Even in failing health Kyran kept in touch with the Irish office and was especially interested in learning about the 1913 Centenary programme. He admired the spirit of Jim Larkin and throughout his life Kyran was imbued with that same spirit."
Kyran was elected NUJ vice-president when Anita Halpin, more recently the union's general treasurer, became president. She said:"We'll all miss Kyran's quirky uniqueness which hid a depth of political understanding and compassion. An internationalist to the core, Kyran's commitment and service to our union was second to none. A true comrade in arms, I will remember him with great affection and gratitude for his friendship and support, especially as my vice-president."
Kyran's veteran Book Branch colleague Mitzi Bales writes: "Kyran's last years were an ordeal, with setback after setback striking him like a battering ram. This sent him into deep despair some of the time, but he always pulled through with his quirky and likeable personality intact. Then he acted ardently for the social and political purposes that identified him: the union's Book Branch, the Cuba Solidarity Capaign, keeping in touch with friends far and near, bestowing kindnesses everywhere. Eloquently loquacious, he was ever true to his revolutionary principles. The Kyran who was passionate and compassionate, pedantic and comedic, intellectually brilliant and lightly entertaining leaves many many of us grieving."
Kyran's friends on the NUJ Book Branch committee remember him with great fondness: "Kyran Connolly, NUJ Book Branch activist Kyran was a founder member of the NUJ Book Branch and served members employed in book publishing at every level of the NUJ from chapel rep to National Executive Committee, where he represented Books for many years.
"He was particularly proud of the time in the 1980s when he and other Book members employed by the British Printing Corporation had fought job losses and defended union rights with a strike and workers’ occupation. Kyran regularly argued that the union should never accept voluntary redundancy – believing that it meant the loss of a job from the industry, and no one has the right to consent to that.
"Kyran was always there for members who needed help, dealing with numerous personal cases, redundancies and supporting chapels in struggle, often on the picket line.
"He was the guardian of the Book Branch banner, which he carried proudly on many demonstrations – including regularly on the London May Day March.
Kyran was an internationalist and fluent Spanish speaker who had travelled widely and took a special interest in South America including the Cuba Solidarity Campaign and support for the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela.
"His strong instinct was to support workers in struggle – no matter where they were. While strongly opinionated politically, Kyran treated all those he met with respect – and also had a great sense of mischief and joie de vivre. He enjoyed a drink and good craic.
"Kyran was an inspiration to all, and a good friend to many.
"He was a great class fighter and will be fondly remembered by those who knew him. As Kyran would say: “La lucha continua!” (the struggle goes on)."