'True patriot' Éamon de Buitléar honoured
Film-maker and conservationist Éamon de Buitléar’s funeral heard Ireland had lost a hero
Ireland has lost “a true patriot, a hero”, mourners at the funeral in Wicklow of film-maker and conservationist Éamon de Buitléar heard yesterday.
Mr de Buitléar died last Sunday, aged 83. One of Ireland’s first independent film-makers, he was passionate about the natural world and was deeply involved in Irish traditional music, enjoying a long association with composer Seán Ó Riada.
Chief mourners were his wife, Laillí, their children Aoife, Éanna, Róisín, Cian and Doireann, his brother Rúairi and sisters, Ailbhe and Colma. His sons and daughters-in-law, 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren accompanied them.
At the packed St Patrick’s Church in Kilquade, celebrant and friend Fr Dermod McCarthy told mourners that all who watched Mr de Buitléar’s programmes and read his books had been “enriched by his knowledge”.
Fr McCarthy, the former head of religious programming at RTÉ, said that as Mr de Buitléar “waded through countless streams and rivers, or waited patiently for hours in hides to film fish, birds and animals, he knew he was participating in [the] universal language”. Mr de Buitléar had “opened the wonders of God’s creation to succeeding generations”.
Concelebrating Mass with four other priests including Defence Forces chaplain Robert McCabe, Fr McCarthy received to the altar gifts that had “book-ended his life” – a St Brigid’s cross woven by Mr de Buitléar’s wife and a book about wild birds, given to him by his mother when he was 13.
Music during the all-Irish ceremony was performed by members of Ceoltóirí Chualann, once led by Seán Ó Riada and with whom Mr de Buitléar had played; and Ceoltóirí Laighean, which Mr de Buitléar founded.
Cór Cúil Aodha, conducted by Seán Ó Riada’s son Peadar, performed throughout, singing Mo Ghile Mear at the close of the Mass.
In his eulogy, Cian de Buitléar said his father’s work had awoken an interest in the environment, music and the Irish language in many. In his film-making, he was “never lured by profit” but made films “that he felt needed to be made”.
He thanked the musicians, some of whom had played at his father’s bedside in recent weeks, and the cancer care team that enabled his father to spend his final weeks at home.
Comdt James Galvin represented President Michael D Higgins, who attended the removal the previous night. Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s aide de camp also attended the removal, as did Minister for the Arts Jimmy Deenihan.
Members of the congregation at the overflowing church included former government ministers Mary Hanafin and Nora Owen, former MEP Mary Banotti, Sinn Féin TDs Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Martin Ferris, Senator and director of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Labhrás Ó Murchú, RTÉ director general Noel Curran, actor Geraldine Plunkett, artist Don Conroy, University of Limerick professor of music Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, fiddler Paddy Glackin and Seán Keane of the Chieftains.
Mr de Buitléar was buried at Kilquade new cemetery.