Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy

I now call on the Leader to lead the tributes to the late former Member, Mr. Eamon de Buitléar

I am privileged to lead the tributes today to the late Eamon de Buitléar, former Senator, who passed away earlier this year. I express my sincere sympathy and that of the House to his wife, Lailli, who is here with us today and his five children, Aoife, Éanna, Róisín, Cian and Doireann.

Eamon, a custodian of the Irish language, was appointed to Seanad Éireann in 1987 in acknowledgement of his dedication to, and avid interest in, environmental issues and the Irish language. Alongside his appointment to this House, he also served on the Heritage Council of Ireland and the Central Fisheries Board. Foremost, however, Eamon was one of Ireland's best known wildlife film makers and an accomplished author of books on natural history. His pride in his Irish roots was illustrated throughout his works and I am sure there are not many people who have not seen at least one of his films or read one of his beautifully-written books.

Those of us who are old enough will remember his weekly wildlife programme on RTE, "Amuigh Faoin Spéir". I certainly remember it and believe it had a weighty influence on our attitudes to environmental issues in Ireland. Throughout much of his film production and writing, his passion for the need to preserve and protect the Irish language, heritage and wildlife was always reflected with genuine concern.

As well as public affairs, writing and film making, Eamon also pursued a deep love of traditional Irish music and was an accomplished mouth organ and button accordion player. He was also a founder member of Seán Ó Riada's Ceoltóirí Chualann. I believe it was not unknown for him to take out his mouth organ and play a little tune when contributing to various radio programmes over the years. I was heartened to learn that not long before his passing, Eamon had donated his entire collection of film, music and writings to the National University of Ireland in Galway. That act demonstrated his deep love and passion for Irish culture and heritage. It is very fitting that the works of one of Ireland's greatest wildlife enthusiasts should be preserved in this way.

Eamon had a great love for children and his family. Again, I extend my condolences to his wife. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Tá an-áthas orm go bhfuil seans againn inniu ár moladh agus ár mbuíochas d'Eamon de Buitléar a chur in iúl maidir leis an saothar a dhéan sé dúinn agus don náisiún. Níl aon amhras faoi ná gur duine speisialta a bhí ann. Má fhéachann muid siar ar a shaol agus ar an mhéid oibre a dhéan sé, ní h-aon ionadh é go raibh ard-mheas ag muintir na hÉireann air, idir óg agus aosta. Ba Ghael den scoth é ó thaobh na Gaeilge, an ceol agus ó thaobh oidhreachta é freisin. Táimid uilig go mór faoi chomaoin aige de bharr na hoibre a dhéan sé. Tagann dhá fhocal chugam nuair a smaoiním ar Eamon, "uaisleacht" agus "dínit". Bhí siad seo i gcónaí le tabhairt faoi deara ann, go pearsanta agus san obair a dhéan sé, ar chláir raidió nó ar an teilifís agus agallamh á chur air. Táimid uilig, mar dhaoine agus mar náisiún, go mór faoi chomaoin aige.

It would be true to say Eamon de Buitléar had many strings to his bow, or to be more musically correct, many buttons to his accordion. It is great to be able to pay tribute to him in Seanad Éireann today. If one looks back on his work as a musician, an independent wildlife film maker, an author and remembers him as a person, it is only right and fitting that this House, which he served so well, should honour him. It was a privilege for this House that Eamon de Buitléar was a Member. It is good when we get an opportunity to recall those people who, through their greatness, ability and passion, made a significant contribution to the positive Ireland which we have today.

Many of us are of an age to remember the work Eamon did as a film maker, when we were absolutely glued to the television. It was not like watching "Fair City" or "Coronation Street".

Instead, we watched the richness and wonder of the world around us and the nature that we have here. The pace of life has changed so we often do not observe, perhaps ignore, the wonderful life that is all around us. Eamon de Buitléar brought that wonder right into our sittingrooms. I always thought he must have had great patience. Like David Attenborough, he must have waited hours to get a shot of an animal or bird and had to climb cliffs to get to the action. We had a fascination with what was on the screen and a realisation of what he had to do to capture an image for us.

Without doubt Eamon gave us a love of animals and birds. That is important because often one can ignore the richness of nature here. It is important that young people respect nature, animals and birds but his work was not simply directed at young people. One of his great strengths is that he bridged the generation gap and young and old shared an interest in his films. Nature can be viewed as a cold and clinical subject but he brought it all to life in a manner where one felt that one was present. One also felt his enthusiasm for the subject. That was part of his success as a professional film maker and one could absorb his interest in the action.

I know that RTE paid a glowing tribute to Eamon at the time because of his pioneering work on nature. Before his work we depended on the big picture from the jungles of Africa. Through his work we realised that small animals and birds also had a story and fascination just as good as lions, elephants and so on. Only Eamon de Buitléar could succeed in doing such a job. His work was more than a technical achievement. It was the manner in which he showed the importance of the images that he captured for us.

I shall mention Eamon the musician. We can all remember what Seán Ó Riada achieved in Irish music, particularly his album called Ó Riada sa Gaiety. I shall mention a little story on the matter. Last year a group travelled to Moscow and Seán Ó Sé from Cork, who sang with Ó Riada on the album, also travelled. When Seán Ó Sé arrived at the theatre he was met by a small group of Russians, who did not speak English, but wanted him to listen to their singing. They sang the songs sung by Seán Ó Sé as Gaeilge. Even though they did not have the language they learned the songs phonetically. Interestingly, they learned the songs from a tape, even replicating when Seán Ó Sé took an unusual breath during a song. I wondered how they discovered the music. People might recall Michael O'Riordan who was secretary of the Communist Party at the time. I discovered that when the CD or LP was produced he bought a number of copies, sent them to his friends in Moscow and the music turned up in a library, was rediscovered and sung to Mr. Ó Sé.

Eamon was part of the tradition known as Ceoltóirí Chualann which later became Ceoltóirí Laighean. He was a box player and played the accordion, mouth organ and bodhrán. In many ways he made playing the bodhrán respectable because he played it quietly and did not dominate the music but that was part of his dignity and nobility.

I believe Eamon de Buitléar and his contribution will always be remembered. I attended his funeral and could sense the absolute depth of affection that people felt for him. It was infectious. That affection was not just from the people who turned out to pay their respects at the time, it was felt right throughout the country. In years to come, Eamon de Buitléar's name will always feature when we talk about nature, wildlife, music, the Irish language or civilisation. I wish to thank his wife, Lailli, and his family for sharing Eamon with the greater Irish community which was so important. She was with him at all times and encouraged him. His work is being carried on by his family. We do not need monuments of stone; we need monuments of life. No greater tribute can be paid to Eamon de Buitléar than the fact that his family worked with him at all stages and are now carrying on the tradition. Go raibh míle maith agaibh. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

On behalf of the Labour Party group and as Deputy Leader of Seanad Éireann, I am honoured to pay tribute to former Senator Eamon de Buitléar. I echo the words and very eloquent tributes paid to him following his death earlier this year. I offer sympathy to his wife and five children.

As others have said, Eamon de Buitléar was best known as a famous wildlife documentary maker. His series "Amuigh Faoin Spéir", "A Life in the Wild" and other television documentaries were extremely important in Irish society at the time. He presented Ireland's first wildlife series. Now it is hard to imagine that there was not a well developed series of wildlife documentaries in place at the time.

Eamon was nominated in 1987 to Seanad Éireann by the then Taoiseach, as others have said, in acknowledgement of his important work in bringing information and knowledge on nature and wildlife to an Irish population who previously never had access to same, in an Irish context. President Michael D. Higgins paid tribute to Eamon earlier this year by saying "He will be remembered as an outstanding broadcaster in both languages." As Eamon's documentaries were made in English and Irish for the BBC, ITV and RTE, his work was truly international and bilingual.

The Leader noted that Eamon donated his archive of bilingual film and paper material to NUI Galway. The university had a great launch to celebrate the occasion and was very proud to take possession of such an important archive. It shall keep the material in trust for the nation.

Eamon de Buitléar was a committed environmentalist. Other tributes described him as a public intellectual in the best sense. He was also a man of many parts whose love of Irish music has been eloquently spoken about. He had a long association with Seán Ó Riada. Eamon's best known legacy will be his wildlife documentary series and the books he published, his collaborations with the likes of Gerrit van Gelderen, and the fact that he brought wildlife into the homes of generations of Irish people, particularly those who remember his work as children and as adults. I offer my sympathy to his wife, children, extended family and friends.

Is onóir dom cúpla focal a rá tar éis bháis an iar-Sheanadóir, Eamon de Buitléar. It is appropriate that I commence with a few words of Irish even if I stumble over them because Eamon de Buitléar was raised in an Irish speaking family. His father had a very distinguished career. He was a colonel in the Irish Army and was an aide-de-camp to Douglas Hyde, first President of Ireland - Dubhghlas de hÍde, known as An Craoibhín Aoibhinn.

Eamon continued to demonstrate a love of the Irish language throughout his life and on numerous occasions spoke Irish in the Seanad. I am about the only survivor of that period. I was elected on the same day that he was nominated and we became very good friends. To my mind, he was a perfect example of what is absolutely the best in Irish people. He was positive and I never heard him make a nasty or unpleasant comment about another person.

He was committed to celebrating the beauty of the Irish landscape. We all remember those wonderful films every week, on "Amuigh Faoin Spéir", which illustrated this. I completely agree with Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú; that team must have had the most immense patience. I remember trying to get one photograph of a fox in a Roscommon bog which took days and we never got the damn thing because it would not do what we wanted. Animals have an independent life of their own. The team of Gerrit van Gelderen and Eamon de Buitléar was superb. They were made for each other. I do not diminish in any sense the contribution of Gerrit van Gelderen, but the vision was Eamon de Buitléar’s and Gerrit van Gelderen was able to realise it in film form. They were a perfect team. In some ways, that was the first real nature programme that I remember on RTE. I do not remember anything either on radio or television before that. There may have been other programmes, but they did not make a very big impact. Eamon de Buitléar is our equivalent of David Attenborough. As most people in the early days of Irish television did not receive the BBC, they did not see David Attenborough, but they received RTE with “Amuigh Faoin Spéir”.

Eamon de Buitléar’s work in this House was distinguished, but he had so many other aspects to his life. He was a most engaging raconteur, as anybody who listened to him on radio is aware. He was very funny, for example, about his experiences in the pet shop. There was a curious coincidence. He was naturally musical and as far as I recall, he had three instruments – what we call the box, the bodhrán and the mouth organ – but it was in the pet shop that he bumped into Seán Ó Riada and the two became lasting friends. Eamon assisted in the foundation of Ceoltóirí Chualann, which laid the basis for a revival of what is best and purest in Irish traditional music.

Eamon de Buitléar donated his extensive archive which includes some material by his father who was also an Irish language enthusiast, that lists the names of all the Irish birds in the Irish language and gives background information on them. It is important material. I say in a positive way that I blame the distinguished lady sitting in the Visitors Gallery for that information because if I am correct, Mrs. de Buitléar is a daughter of the celebrated artist Charles Lamb who was noted for celebrating the landscape of Connemara. That was what drew Eamon to Connemara. Although a Wicklow man, he fell in love with the landscape of Connemara. It is highly appropriate that towards the end of his life he made a generous donation of wonderful material to the National University of Ireland, Galway, NUIG.

We recently had debates on the Seanad and its usefulness, or lack of, and the people, by a narrow majority, decided the Seanad was worthwhile. That is because of the existence of people such as Eamon de Buitléar. It might not be popular to say it because Mr. Charles Haughey was not a popular figure in Irish public life, but he had a good sense of humour which he could deploy at his own expense on certain occasions. He had imagination and understood artists. It was a most imaginative appointment to put somebody such as Eamon de Buitléar in the Seanad which was enriched and ennobled by his presence. I am very sorry that he has met the fate that awaits us all, but at least it was with a loving and talented family and the knowledge he must have had that he had accomplished a great deal for the land he loved.

Tá áthas orm a bheith anseo inniu. As Conamara mé féin agus tá a fhios agam faoin obair agus an grá a bhí ag Eamon de Buitléar do Chonamara, mar a dúirt an Seanadóir deireanach. Tá a fhios agam freisin faoin obair atá déanta aige chun Conamara a chur in aithne do dhaoine agus an biodiversity atá san áit sin agus ar fud na tíre a chur in iúl dúinn.

I welcome Mrs. de Buitléar and the family to the House. I sympathise with all of them on the death of Eamon de Buitléar. He was a figurehead in every household as there is not a person in the country who does not remember “Amuigh Faoin Spéir”. It gave every one of us a love of and information on what was under our feet and up in the spéir that we would not have seen or appreciated without him.

Yesterday representatives of the National Biodiversity Data Centre appeared before the Joint Committee on the Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht. I said to myself that Eamon de Buitléar was the national biodiversity data centre before it was founded. What he has done for biodiversity, flora and fauna is incalculable. I worked in the National University of Ireland, Galway and he could not have found a better place for his memorabilia. Time is short and other speakers wish to contribute, but I wish to refer to his contribution to Irish music, Ceoltóirí Chualann, Ó Riada and all of the services he rendered in that regard. Much of his work will live on through the tapes and recordings. There will probably be an exhibition of his memorabilia in NUIG. It is unnecessary to call for such as he is held in high esteem throughout the country, let alone in the location of his personal archive. Being a Member of this House was secondary to what Eamon had done in terms of letting the ordinary people of the country appreciate what was around them and educating them through his films, talks, writing and music. I convey my deepest sympathy to the family.

It is a great privilege to follow my colleagues in paying tribute to the late former Senator Eamon de Buitléar and his wonderful career in promoting the country, its teanga, nádúr agus ceol. He grew up in the Phoenix Park where his father was aide-de-camp to Douglas Hyde. It must have been a source of great happiness for him that the grounds of the Áras were shared with the African plains section of the Zoo following the transfer of some land from Áras an Uachtaráin to the Zoo. They were the grounds where Eamon had played as a boy. He won Jacob’s awards. Senator David Norris mentioned that he had met Seán Ó Riada which led to the formation of Ceoltóirí Chualann. The list of musicians who honoured him include Mícheál O Súilleabhán, Seán Keane, Seán Ó Sé , Peadar Ó Riada and Paddy Glackin. Peadar brought up the choir from Cúil Aodha. They were all there to honour him for his contribution to music. Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú has joined in that tribute.

I thank Eamon's wife, Lailli, for sharing him, as Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú said, with the country in the amazing contributions he made in so many ways. At his funeral, Fr. Dermod McCarthy said Eamon had used his position as a Senator to awaken people to the continuing need to respect nature in all its facets. We did learn from him to appreciate nature very much. It is appropriate that he gave all of his artefacts, film archives, music and books to NUIG.

The new campus, along the banks of the Corrib, is an appropriate place to honour the late Eamon de Buitléar because he loved Connemara and the Corrib flows down from Connemara on its way to Galway city, which is probably the capital of music in this country because great music comes out of every doorway there. We all look forward to visiting the archive when the public has access.

On a personal note, they were filming one day on the Broadmeadow, which is between Malahide and Swords, and my brother and his two small boys, as they were then, were passing by. On the patience to which Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú has referred, they involved the two boys in making the movie and it became one of the cherished items in their own archive. They got to know Eamon and Gerrit as a result. It was an example of the immense patience that one must have in filming nature.

It was also an example of the wonderful contrast to television which has so many in-studio programmes and does not get out nearly enough. I suppose, in studying economics, I was always jealous of those such as Eamon because we would be heading off to the library and they would be getting field trips to the Wicklow Mountains or the Burren. Maybe that is what made Eamon de Buitléar such a happy person who communicated so much of that happiness and joy. He was doing exactly what he wanted. The country is indebted to him on so many fronts - furthering our music, promoting the language, preserving the best of our heritage and making us aware of the beauties of nature which, perhaps, we cherish a little more than when Eamon started to make the programmes. Gabhaim buíochas le Eamon agus lena chlann.

I heard on radio this morning that a painting by Francis Bacon had sold for several million euro. I do not know whether it was for €20 million or €60 million.

Approximately €150 million.

When it comes to millions, I am like the rabbits in Watership Down, in that I cannot count past five, but I know it was many millions of euro. It was a great deal of money, but Eamon de Buitléar was priceless. He was known, back to front, upside down and inside out, by every school child in Ireland because of the advent of the overhead projector and film strips. The teachers had great difficulty putting in the film strips and they used to spend most of the lesson trying to get the film strip right. First, it came up back to front, then it came up inside out, then it came upside down, and then, eventually, one got it right and one had the treasure. As the education spokesperson in the Seanad for Fine Gael, his contribution as a one-man environmental lobby, in Ireland and in the schools, over many years was beyond measurement. In addition, he livened up many a Friday afternoon when the teacher said, "Go down to the staff room and get the projector" because if the projector arrived with the light working, one had a great half-hour of a nature lesson and then a discussion followed by the 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. lesson in art in which the children drew the scenes that Eamon de Buitléar presented on his film strip. His contribution to the natural environment and nature studies in schools was beyond compare. The teachers got as much pleasure out of the lessons as the children because they were learning as much. They were starting from scratch also.

In the case of one stiallscannán, mar a tugadh orthu, when we put it on - one is supposed to prepare lessons but sometimes one went off on the hoof - Eamon introduced Bull Island to me for the first time. It was, in his presentation and mellifluous voice, as exotic as the Aurora Borealis. One was transported to a different world. It was the same with the Burren.

We thought all beach birds were seagulls until he came along and started telling us about waders and oystercatchers. Every year Eamon would ask "Why does the oystercatcher stand on one leg?" and then pause. Then he would add, "Because if he lifted it, he would fall," and every year the children would laugh in the same way. He was, as I said, priceless. Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann.

Is mór an onóir dom a bheith in ann seasaimh anseo agus ómós a thabhairt d'fhear uasal, ildánach. Chas mé leis roinnt uaireanta agus an rud a théadh i gcion ar dhuine faoi ná gur duine uasal ceart a bhí ann, duine a labhródh le chuile dhuine. Fáiltím go háirithe roimh Lailli atá anseo inniu. Is breá an rud duine éigin eile as an gCeathrú Rua a fheiceáil anseo sa Seanad.

Tá sé ráite ag mo chomhghleacaithe romham cé chomh ildánach agus a bhí Eamon, ach ó mo thaobh féin de, chuir mise aithne air mar Ghaeilgeoir paiseanta agus mar cheoltóir den chéad scoth. Tá trácht nach beag déanta ar a bhfuil déanta aige ó thaobh na scannánaíochta, ó thaobh leabhair, mar údar, agus maidir leis an chaoi a ndeachaigh sé i gcion ar aosóg na hÉireann trí chéile ó thaobh an ceannródaíocht a bhí aige mar scannánaí dúlra. Mar dhuine a chaith tréimhse ag plé le cúrsaí teilifíse, sílim gur ceann de na dúshláin is mó atá ann ná scannán a dhéanamh faoi chúrsaí dúlra. Tá smacht ag duine ar chúrsaí reatha agus ar chúrsaí drámaíochta, ach le cúrsaí dúlra tá an duine ag brath ar na hainmhithe a bheith ag imirt an cluiche leis. Tógann sin foigne damanta agus scil faoi leith. Ceapaim nach n-aithnítear an scil a bhaineann le scannánaíocht dúlra agus cé chomh ceannródaíoch agus a bhí Eamon sa réimse sin, mar gheall ar a fhoighne agus an dua a bhain le sin. Ní hamháin sin, ach rinne sé éascaíocht ar an eolas seo d'aosóg na hÉireann agus muintir na hÉireann trí chéile, tríd na leabhair a d'fhoilsigh sé agus mar sin de.

Bhí baint nach beag ag Eamon le cúrsaí ceoil. Tharla gur éirigh liom dul chuig an tórramh i gCill Mhantáin agus bhí sé ar nós dul chuig ceolchoirm. Bhí sé go hálainn ar fad agus bhí ceoltóirí móra na tíre ar fad i láthair le ceol agus amhrán in ómós dó. Ba léir ó na deora a bhí á sileadh ag daoine an oíche chéanna agus ón gáire a bhí acu chomh maith an oiread measa agus ómóis a bhí acu don obair a bhí déanta ag Eamon ó thaobh an cheoil de. Bhí sé gníomhach i mbunú Cheoltóirí Chualann agus Ceoltóirí Laighean. Rud eile a tháinig trasna tríd a raibh le feiceáil an oíche sin ná nach fear é Eamon a choinneodh a chuid buanna agus scileanna aige féin. Ba fear é a roinn a chuid scileanna agus eolas le gach duine a bhí timpeall air. Ba léir go ndeachaigh sé i gcion ar go leor ceoltóirí óga, ó thaobh cé chomh hoscailte agus a bhí sé a chuid fonn a roinnt agus a chuid eolais a roinnt ó thaobh casadh na huirlisí agus mar sin de. Is mór an méid é sin.

Ba fear mór bádóireachta a bhí ann chomh maith. Bhí an-ghean aige ar húicéirí na Gaillimhe agus ar an seoltóireacht traidisiúnta agus ba mhinic é le feiceáil ag seoltóireacht. Go deimhin, tá sin le feiceáil fós ina chlann agus ina mhac Cian agus an clann ar fad a théann amach ag seoltóireacht sna báid mhóra. Bhí baint mór aige leis an cultúr sin a chaomhnú agus a neartú agus leis na báid sin a dhéanamh suas agus a choinneáil ag seoladh. Dá bhrí sin, tá sé spéisiúil go raibh duine den ildánacht sin anseo sa Seanad. Sílim go léiríonn sin ceann de na rudaí is tábhachtaí a bhaineann le Seanad Éireann, go mbeadh daoine in ár láthair atá in ann dearcadh éagsúil a thabhairt ar an saol, atá in ann saibhreas a thabhairt leo ó thaobh cúrsaí cultúr, cúrsaí teanga, cúrsaí nádúir agus araile. Cinnte, níl aon dabht faoi, fad agus a bhí Eamon anseo, gur thug sé leis é sin.

Thar mo cheann féin, ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil le Lailli as ucht teacht anseo inniu agus ár gcuid smaointe a thabhairt don chlann ar fad go mba mhór an gift é Eamon de Buitléar do mhuintir na hÉireann. Táim cinnte go mba mhór an gift é don chlann chomh maith. Ba seod náisiúnta é i ndáiríre píre, leis an obair a rinne sé. Tá sé fíor nach mbeidh a leithéid arís ann. Beidh daoine cosúil leis, a dhéanfaidh rudaí éagsúla, ach duine faoi leith a bhí ann. Aon uair a chas mise leis, meangadh gáire a bhí aige.

Ní raibh an t-uafás aithne agam air, ach aon uair a chas mé leis, ba dhuine an-sóisialta, an-deas, an-chabhrach agus an tacúil a bhí ann. Is mór an pribhléid a bheith in ann a bheith anseo inniu le buíochas a ghabháil leis as an méid a rinne sé agus le hómós a thaispeáint don mhéid a thug sé dúinn.

I am honoured to have the opportunity to pay a small tribute to the late former Senator Eamon de Buitléar, primarily because I had the pleasure to serve with him in the House between 1987 and 1989. Rather interestingly, when he first came to the Seanad, he did not sit in this august Chamber because its ceiling had all but collapsed at that time. Instead, he and the other Senators were relocated to the anteroom. It is also interesting that, in the light of the size of the latter, all 60 Senators and the staff of the House could be accommodated there. Sittings were held in the anteroom for between 12 and 18 months and this was also my first experience of serving in the Upper House.

The late Eamon de Buitléar sat in Chamber itself when the ceiling had been restored and he made a number of major contributions here. One of his first contributions was on the Fisheries (Amendment) Bill, which dealt with the dreaded issue of fishing licences. That matter seems to have been consigned to history but it gave rise to major controversy at the time. One of his major contributions was to the debate An Blascaod Mór National Historic Park Act which was brought before the House by the then Taoiseach, Charles Haughey. It was one of those are occasions on which a Taoiseach came before the House. Rather than farming out responsibility to a Minister of State - as seems to have been the case with subsequent Taoisigh - Mr. Haughey came before the House on occasions when legislation pertaining to his Department was being dealt with. Mr. Haughey made a number of inspired choices when nominating people to membership of the House. Not only did he nominate Eamon de Buitléar, he also put forward for membership Brian Friel, John Magnier and a number of other distinguished individuals who served here during his term of office.

I took the opportunity to read one of the late Eamon de Buitléar's contributions to the debate on the An Blascaod Mór National Historic Park Act, which primarily related to the Great Blasket Island, during which he stated that the first occasion on which he met Seán Ó Riada, the latter's only concern was that he and his wife and Mr. de Buitléar and his wife, Lailli, should repair to the Blasket Islands in order to repopulate them. Eamon de Buitléar indicated that he felt this was an unrealistic aspiration and that if he had gone to the Blaskets, the chances were that he would wake up one morning to news that Ó Riada had absconded. He also spoke on national heritage legislation and on a number of debates relating to heritage, primarily in the context of his area of expertise. At one stage, a debate took place in respect of the broadcasting of the proceedings of the Houses. It seems so long ago now but some of the then Members of the Upper House suggested that in the broadcasts of proceedings up to that point, the Independent Senators seemed to be attracting the lion's share of the coverage. Mr. de Buitléar made the observation that there were Independents in the House and that there were also real Independents in it. In other words, he saw himself as not only being independent of the party political system but also of the university Senators. He saw himself as a true Independent and obviously that was reflected in the contributions he made during his short time here.

Like previous speakers, I take the opportunity to convey my sympathy to Eamon de Buitléar's wife and five children. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

As Leas-Chathaoirleach, I wish to be associated with the expressions of sympathy and acknowledge the presence of Eamon de Buitléar's wife in the Distinguished Visitors Gallery. I grew up in a very remote rural area on the Sheep's Head Peninsula, with which Senator Sean D. Barrett is quite familiar, and I am aware of how things have changed for young people in recent times. I am also aware of the contribution Eamon de Buitléar made to rural life. Times used to much simpler and nowadays children are obsessed with iPhones, iPads, Google, etc. Eamon de Buitléar's devotion to the Irish countryside was a labour of love throughout his life.

I may have something in common with the late, great Eamon de Buitléar, namely, that we were both appointed to Seanad Éireann by Charles J. Haughey, he in 1987 and I on 27 October 1989. I cannot say that my appointment was as inspired as that of Mr. de Buitléar.

Of course, it was.

I believe Eamon de Buitléar was a gentleman. I also believe he was unassuming, low key and very committed to his work to protect the environment and nature. I have absolutely no doubt that the Seanad benefited greatly from his informed and objective contributions on legislation relating to the environment and on the legislation relating to fishing licences to which Senator Paschal Mooney referred. There is no doubt that, through his television programmes, documentaries and publications, Mr. de Buitléar leaves behind a rich legacy in respect of nature, cultural history and the environment. I did not know the man but, as Leas-Chathaoirleach, I am glad to have had the opportunity to add my sympathy to that of other Members. I ask colleagues to stand for one minute in silence as a mark of respect.

Members rose.
Sitting suspended at 12.25 p.m. and resumed at 1.30 p.m.