PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has led tributes to the late film-maker Eamon de Buitlear, saying "several generations of Irish people" were "indebted" to him for their knowledge and understanding of our national heritage.
Mr Higgins said he was "deeply saddened" to hear of the passing of the former senator at his home in Delgany, Co Wicklow.
He said Mr de Buitlear, who died on Sunday night, aged 83, would be remembered "as an outstanding broadcaster in both languages. A great communicator, his warm and engaging personality as well as his enthusiasm and knowledge touched people of all ages", and he extended his sympathies to Mr de Buitlear's widow Lailli, and their five children.
Describing him as an "accomplished musician", Mr Higgins added that one of Mr de Buitlear's "final acts of immense generosity" was his decision to donate his important archive of film and papers to the National University of Ireland Galway last November.
Spanning some 60 years, the Eamon de Buitlear Archive consists of papers, scripts and manuscripts, animation, film and video, music and audio recordings, books and broadcast equipment.
NUI Galway president Dr Jim Browne said the university was proud to have been entrusted with the "rich multi-media, bi-lingual archive.
Conservation group An Taisce also paid tribute to Mr de Buitlear's "extraordinary contribution to so many Irish people's understanding and appreciation of our local national environment, its habitats and species".
Known to TV viewers for his wildlife series 'Amuigh Faoin Speir' (Out Under the Sky), on which he collaborated with Dutch artist Gerrit van Gelderen, Mr de Buitlear had been Ireland's best-known independent wildlife film-maker since the 1960s.
A founder member of Sean O Riada's Ceoltoiri Chualann, his other passions included the Irish language and traditional music.
Appointed to the Seanad in 1987, Mr de Buitlear was the author of several books, including a recent memoir, 'A Life in the Wild'.
He is survived by his wife, Lailli, and five children, Aoife, Eanna, Roisin, Cian and Doireann.