David Shaw-Smith, acclaimed filmmaker, photographer and archivist of Irish life and times, has died following a long illness.

Mr Shaw-Smith, along with his wife Sally, produced the multi-award winning series of documentaries, Hands, for RTÉ in the 1970s.

For decades, the couple travelled the length and breadth of the country capturing on film the final years of traditional rural and urban life.

President Michael D Higgins said the nation owes Mr Shaw-Smith a debt of gratitude for his work in documenting arts and crafts traditions. 

Offering his condolences to his family, the President said he hoped they would draw comfort from the unique legacy he had left on Irish life and film. 

He said that "the wonderful texture" of the Hands series highlighted Mr Shaw-Smith’s contribution to the country’s cultural tradition. 

A native of Dublin, Mr Shaw-Smith joined RTÉ television when it was set up in 1961. In 1970 he set up his own TV production company

Mr Shaw-Smith, who died at the weekend in Friars Lodge Nursing Home, Ballinrobe, lived near Lough Carra, Co Mayo.

In his death notice, published today, his family describe him as "a wonderful father, grandfather and friend".

 "(He was) a brilliant filmmaker, photographer, and archivist of Irish life and crafts.

"His warmth, humour, curiosity and enthusiasm enriched all who came to know him, both in person and through his films."

Private family prayers and burial service will be held on Thursday at Burriscarra Abbey, close to his home.