Lambert’s lasting legacy

Off the fence
Lambert’s lasting legacy

Off the fence
Michael Commins

HOW often are the plain people of Ireland overwhelmed in the national media outlets with hype and propaganda surrounding very dubious ‘idols’ in the pop and entertainment culture? Matters of absolute trivia are propelled onto the front pages in what has become a shameless obsession with people who have truly nothing to offer to the greater wellbeing or wisdom of the world.
Some weeks ago, we heard the news of the passing of famed puppeteerEugene Lambert in Dublin. Now, there was a man who deserved a few pages in any national newspaper. And no one would disagree with that. Eugene was, in every sense of the word, a national treasure.
I first met Eugene back in the 1980s and got to know him very well. Tom Kelly from Ballina, who now looks after the diaries for Brendan Grace and Isla Grant, took over as manager of Eugene during that time.
Likeability is something you cannot buy. There was a calmness and serenity about Eugene that endeared him to all. Puppetry was his art and he had few if any equals when it came to this genre of the entertainment scene. He loved children and they loved him. He dispensed joy and happiness to thousands at his shows around the country and in the family theatre in Dun Laoghaire.
Of course, Eugene was a West of Ireland man. It was in Sligo that he first saw the light of day. He was proud of his Sligo roots and they had every reason to be proud of him.
How many children sang along to “Here comes the wagon, wanderly, wanderly wagon” as Judge and Crow and all Eugene’s creations took them on the most delightful of journeys on his long running RTE show? He had a direct line to the land of childhood imagination and he fully believed in the magic that dwells in each human heart.
His daughter Paula was the voice behind the famous Bosco character, another ‘stalwart’ of the RTÉ children’s programmes scene for many years. Indeed, many of the Lambert family followed in their dad’s footsteps.
Eugene Lambert was truly one of nature’s absolute gentlemen. Never once bowing the knee to the technology age, he remained firm in his belief that nothing could ever match the human voice and its enduring ability to remain streets ahead of all modern advancements. For Eugene, it was ‘heart to heart’, the golden rule in all good communications.
It was a privilege to have known Eugene Lambert, to have shared many conversations with him in former times, and to have been in the company of such a gentleman. No gimmicks, no hype, just pure talent, direct from the old school. We will never see his likes again.