herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Tributes to Dear Daughter filmmaker

The maker of the ground-breaking Dear Daughter documentary, Louis Lentin, has died, leaving behind "a truly impressive legacy of work".

During his long career, Mr Lentin was also a renowned head of drama at RTE.

Paying tribute, President Michael D Higgins said he was an "outstanding television producer, director and documentary maker".

"His body of work . . . leaves us with a legacy that will continue to inform us in the years ahead. He also made a most valuable and innovative contribution to Irish theatre in his early career," he added.

Mr Lentin, who was 80, is best remembered for the 1996 documentary Dear Daughter, which lifted the lid on Ireland's institutional abuse scandals.

Based on the harrowing experiences of Christine Buckley, the programme set in train a series of events culminating in a full State apology by then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Born in Limerick in 1933, Mr Lentin began his career as a theatre director.

He joined RTE in 1961 and went on to direct key productions including Insurrection, on the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. He was appointed RTE's head of television drama in 1978.

Inspiration

Mr Lentin said hearing Buckley recall her childhood in the Sisters of Mercy-run Goldenbridge orphanage was the inspiration for Dear Daughter.

Until her appearance on Gay Byrne's morning radio show in 1992, the country's institutional abuse scandals had remained hidden.

"The whole country was shocked by it. I was working on another production and my editor asked me if I wanted to make this film. I said of course I would," Mr Lentin said later.

He said the film "brought into the open, the whole of the terrible events". It also allowed "so many people throughout the country that wanted to talk" to do so, he added.

The controversy generated by the revelations eventually led to the Ryan and Murphy reports.

Noel Curran, RTE's director general, said: "Louis Lentin made a major contribution to the output and evolution of RTE. He was with us on the very first broadcast evening of December 31, 1961. He was passionate about the impact and medium of television and he left a truly impressive legacy of work."

Mr Lentin is survived by his wife Ronit and children Alana and Miki. His death comes four months after that of Christine Buckley.

comurphy@herald.ie

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