FAMILY and friends of the late wildlife film-maker Eamon de Buitlear gathered to remember "a true patriot".
Reflecting his love of music, the small country church was filled with the strains of the fiddle and the beat of the bodhran as the coffin carrying the 83-year-old was removed to St Patrick's Church in Kilquade, Co Wicklow, last night.
Leading the hundreds of mourners, who included Mr de Buitlear's friends from the worlds of broadcasting, music and politics, was President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina. Also in attendance was Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan, while Taoiseach Enda Kenny was represented by his aide-de-camp, Commandant Michael Treacy.
Mr de Buitlear is survived by his wife Lailli and their five children: Aoife, Eanna, Roisin, Cian and Doireann.
Celebrant at the removal service, Fr Diarmuid McCarthy, told the family that the hundreds of mourners were there to support them and as "an expression of our prayerful presence".
Addressing Mr Higgins, he added: "Uachtarain, you represent the people of this country who owe so much to this man."
Fr McCarthy, a long-time friend of Mr de Buitlear, told how the film-maker, musician and broadcaster touched the lives of generations of Irish people.
"He opened up for us a world very few of us knew about – our own world, our own country. So in that regard, Eamon was a true patriot," he said.
"He was a man hugely respected, admired and loved.
"All of you who came in contact with him during his life came to appreciate what a good man he was."
Musician Philip King then played a piece of music jointly composed by him and Mr de Buitlear and which was played at the ceremony last November in which the renowned film-maker donated his archive of films and paper to NUI Galway.
In a career spanning six decades, Mr de Buitlear is best known by the public for his television series 'Amuigh Faoin Speir' on which he collaborated with the Dutch artist Gerrit van Gelderen.
He was also a founder member of Sean O Riada's Ceoltoiri Chualann and, in 1987, was appointed to Seanad Eireann.