President leads tributes to Éamon de Buitléar

Tue, Jan 29, 2013, 00:00

Several generations are indebted to Éamon de Buitléar for their knowledge and understanding of Ireland’s national heritage, President Michael D Higgins has said.

Leading the tributes to Mr de Buitléar, who died at his home on Sunday aged 83, Mr Higgins said he was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of a “great communicator” who will be remembered as an “outstanding broadcaster in both languages.”

“His warm and engaging personality as well as his enthusiasm and knowledge touched people of all ages. He will also be remembered as an accomplished musician,” Mr Higgins said.

Offering sympathies to Mr de Buitléar’s wife and family, Minister for the Arts Jimmy Deenihan described Mr de Buitléar as a pioneer who introduced wildlife conservation and environmentalism to a wider public.


“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.”

Jim Browne, president of NUIG, described the broadcaster as “an outstanding figure of modern Ireland”.

An exceptional film-maker, a committed environmentalist, a public intellectual, author, musician and member of Seanad Éireann, Mr de Buitléar was a man “of many parts” whose contribution “has enriched the lives of many generations”, Dr Browne said.

“His enduring legacy will be a sense of respect for the landscape and heritage of Ireland, along with a joyful enthusiasm for the culture and traditions of our nation.”

RTÉ director general Noel Curran said Mr de Buitléar “was Ireland’s best-known independent wildlife film-maker” and a “passionate advocate for the Irish language” who brought wildlife and environmentalism to the mainstream.

Chairman of the County Wicklow Anglers’ Association Billy Hannon remembered Mr de Buitléar as an “active fisherman” who frequently fished on the Roundwood Reservoir.

“He came up every year at this time of the year to give a hand with the boats to get them ready to put them back on the water in March,” he said.

Mark of respect

Mr de Buitléar was due to take up a position as president of the Wicklow anglers’ body next Monday. The post will be left unfilled for a year as a mark of respect, Mr Hannon said.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and Fine Gael TD for Wicklow Simon Harris also conveyed their condolences.

His remains, which will repose at his Delgany home today, will be removed at 7.30 this evening to St Patrick’s church in Kilquade. Mr de Buitléar will be laid to rest after requiem Mass at noon tomorrow. Mourners are asked to make donations to the Irish Cancer Society in lieu of flowers.