David Shaw-Smith was born in Dublin on January 20th, 1939. He was educated in Dublin and Scotland, and emigrated to the U.S. before returning to Ireland in 1961 to work for RTÉ’s nascent television division.
Since 1970, he has spent most of his career as an independent documentary filmmaker, producing over one-hundred and thirty eight television documentaries, including the Hands series that featured the traditional crafts of Ireland covering the whole of Ireland including Ulster for RTÉ. His films are held several collections of the American Museum of Broadcasting, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
In 1984, he published the photographic book Ireland’s Traditional Crafts, which he revised through nationwide grassroots research with fresh photography for a new edition published in 2003. He held a seat on the board of the Crafts Council of Ireland from 1987 to 2002 when he decided to step down.
He founded Ceárta Inneona, Ireland’s first blacksmithing school, with the assistance from many individuals representing Northern Ireland and The Republic and served as its chairman until recently.
His awards include the Special Jury Selection at the Los Angeles International Film Festival (1993), the Jacob’s Television Critics Award (1986) and the Golden Harp Award (1984) and an honorary doctorate from Trinity College, Dublin (1987). He received funding from The Heritage Council to create an Audiovisual Irish Heritage Archive in 2005.
Recent documentary projects broadcast on RTÉ include, Sign Magic (2006) about the sign writer Tomás Tuipeár, an hour-long programme on Irish ceramicist John ffrench (2007), which received a ‘Document of the Arts Award’, and Cots and Cotsmen, a documentary on traditional Irish fishing boats.