Film-maker, musician and conservationist
Éamon de Buitléar's work as a film-maker took him all over Ireland as well as to Sardinia, Ethiopia, the Azores and Lesotho in southern Africa
Éamon de Buitléar: Born: January 22nd, 1930 Died: January 27th, 2013Éamon de Buitléar, who has died aged 83, was a film-maker and conservationist. Passionate about the natural world, he was one of Ireland’s first independent film-makers. He also was deeply involved in Irish traditional music and enjoyed a long collaboration with Seán Ó Riada.
With the Dutch illustrator and cartoonist Gerrit van Gelderen he devised the award-winning wildlife programme Amuigh Faoin Spéir for RTÉ. Other credits include The Natural World and the Living Isles (BBC), the series Exploring the Landscape, Ireland’s Wild Countryside and A Life in the Wild (RTÉ), Wild Islands (RTÉ, STV and S4C), Éiníní agus Ainimhithe na hÉireann (TG4) and Nature Watch (ITV).
His work as a film-maker took him all over Ireland as well as to Sardinia, Ethiopia, the Azores and Lesotho.
President Michael D Higgins described him as a “real communicator” with a “warm and engaging personality”. Broadcaster Éanna Ní Lamhna recalled the impact made by Amuigh Faoin Spéir, which “burst upon an unsuspecting public”.
Born in 1930, he was one of seven children of Éamon de Buitléar and his wife Nóra O’Brien. His father, a Dubliner, was commanding officer An Céad Chath, Renmore Barracks, Galway, and later served as aide-de-camp to president Douglas Hyde. His mother was from Co Waterford.
Tricks of the trade
The Irish-speaking family lived in Bray, on the banks of the Dargle river. His father awakened his interest in fishing and a local poacher taught him some tricks of the trade. The first fish he remembered catching was a 1lb trout, when he was five. He also remembered hooking rudd in the lake at Áras an Uachtaráin.
He attended St Brigid’s private school, Bray, before becoming a pupil of Willow Park and later Blackrock College. His first job was in a fishing tackle shop, Garnetts and Keegan’s, in Parliament Street, Dublin.
As a young man he regularly visited Conamara, played rugby with the Blackrock College second team, attended singing classes under Seán Óg Ó Tuama and frequented the Piper’s Club. He played the mouth organ and button accordian and joined the Loch Gamhna céilí band. He also presented traditional music programmes on Raidió Éireann.
After switching jobs several times, and opening a pet shop, he took up a position in Hely’s of Dame Street. There he first met Seán Ó Riada, who was buying a shotgun, and who invited him to join a folk orchestra he was forming. This was Ceoltóirí Chualann, launched at the Dublin Theatre Festival in 1961.
The ensemble enjoyed success with two radio series, Fleadh Cheoil an Raidió and Reachaireacht an Riadaigh, and later provided the soundtrack for the film version of The Playboy of the Western World. Albums for Gael Linn followed, the best known of which is Ó Riada sa Gaiety. Ceoltóirí Chualann’s final public appearance was at the Carolan Tercentenary Concert in City Hall, Cork, in June 1970.