Film-maker Éamon de Buitléar dies

Updated: 28 January 2013 15:53

The death has taken place of the wildlife film-maker, conservationist and former Senator, Éamon de Buitléar. He was 83.

The death has taken place of the wildlife film-maker, conservationist and former Senator, Éamon de Buitléar.

He was 83 and died at his home in Delgany, Co Wicklow on Sunday night.

Ireland's best known independent wildlife film-maker since the 1960s, Éamon de Buitléar also promoted the Irish language and traditional music.

A founder member of Seán Ó Riada's Ceoltóirí Chualann, Éamon de Buitléar was an accomplished musician - playing the mouth organ and button accordion - and the author of several books, including schoolbooks on Ireland's natural history and a recent memoir, A Life in the Wild.

He was appointed to Seanad Éireann in 1987, in recognition of his work on environmental issues, and to the Heritage Council and the Central Fisheries Board.

In November last year, he donated his entire archive of film, music and writings to the National University of Ireland, Galway.

He is survived by his wife, Lailli, and five children, Aoife, Éanna, Róisín, Cian and Doireann, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, sisters and brothers.

Paying tribute, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan said: "Éamon was a wildlife conservationist and environmentalist at a time when these concepts were in their infancy in Ireland. He introduced us all to ideas which, thanks to his vision, have now become mainstream.

"He was a leader, and through his films and programmes he became a household name as he explained the importance and value of the environment and biodiversity to generations of Irish people.

"His love for Irish traditional music and the music of Seán Ó Riada, and his long involvement with music group Ceoltóirí Chualann, were also an important part of his life.

"Any person who met Éamon could only be impressed by the depth of his knowledge on the subject of biodiversity and conservation.

"In recent years he was a regular visitor at the local festival in my home village of Finuge, where a tour of the local bog was a feature of the weekend. During these visits Éamon would speak about the range of interconnected plant, animal and insect life found in the bog. These were extremely interesting talks for those of us lucky enough to be present, and especially for children, who were fascinated by him.

"I would like to express my sympathy to the family and friends of Éamon de Buitléar, especially his wife Lailli and children Aoife, Éanna, Róisín, Cian and Doireann."

RTÉ's Director-General Noel Curran said that Éamon de Buitléar "was Ireland's best-known independent wildlife film-maker, a passionate advocate for the Irish language and, as a founder member of Seán Ó Riada's Ceoltóirí Chualann, an accomplished musician. His expertise and passions were apparent in his work for RTÉ, and over the course of a long career, during which he became a household name, Éamon brought wildlife and environmentalism to the mainstream."

He continued: "Programmes like Amuigh Faoin Spéir, Ireland's very first wildlife series, had a profound influence on attitudes to our environment. In November 2012, Éamon donated his entire collection of film, music and writings to the National University of Ireland, Galway, and RTÉ was delighted to partner with NUIG to preserve the programme collection. It is fitting that the work of one of Ireland's most unique film-makers should be preserved in this way, in tribute to Éamon de Buitléar's outstanding contribution to education, to film-making, and to Irish life."