Tuesday 19 June 2018

'His dreams were bigger than his illness' - Tributes paid to filmmaker Simon Fitzmaurice who passed away at 43

Vivid portrait: Simon, seen here with wife Ruth and their five children. Photo: Marc Atkins
Vivid portrait: Simon, seen here with wife Ruth and their five children. Photo: Marc Atkins
Remarkable story: It’s Not Yet Dark tells the story of film-maker Simon Fitzmaurice who developed Motor Neuron Disease

Sasha Brady

Wicklow writer and director, Simon Fitzmaurice, has passed away at the age of 43 - just weeks after his groundbreaking documentary on Motor Neurone Disease was released.

In 2008, Simon Fitzmaurice was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. He was just 34-years-old. At the time, he was a young father of two, and his wife Ruth was pregnant with their third child. Doctors warned him that he had just four years to live.

The diagnosis came just after his second short film, The Sound of People, screened at the Sundance Film Festival.

Despite the odds – being completely paralysed, not being able to speak, swallow or breathe without artificial help – Simon went on to write and direct a feature film, My Name is Emily (2015), and write his groundbreaking memoir It’s Not Yet Dark (2017).

Remarkable story: It’s Not Yet Dark tells the story of film-maker Simon Fitzmaurice who developed Motor Neuron Disease
Remarkable story: It’s Not Yet Dark tells the story of film-maker Simon Fitzmaurice who developed Motor Neuron Disease

Simon received the Lifetime Achievement Award at London Screenwriter’s Festival in 2016 for My Name is Emily. It was also nominated for eight IFTA awards.

Finance for the movie was raised through a crowd-funding campaign in which celebrity friends such as  Alan Rickman, Colin Farrell, Sam Neil, Kirsten Sheridan, Jim Sheridan, and Lenny Abrahamson all voiced their support.

George Webster and Evanna Lynch hit the road in 'My Name is Emily'.
George Webster and Evanna Lynch hit the road in 'My Name is Emily'.

His memoir, It's Not Dark Yet was adapted into a documentary and released earlier this month. Directed by Frankie Fenton and narrated by Colin Farrell, it tells the story of Simon's diagnosis of MND and how it has progressed and impacted on him and his young family.

He is survived by his wife Ruth and five young children: Jack, Raife, Arden and twins Sadie and Hunter.

Simon and Ruth Fitzmaurice at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Dublin. Picture: Arthur Carron
Simon and Ruth Fitzmaurice at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Dublin. Picture: Arthur Carron

As the news of his passing was announced this morning, friends and fans took to social media to pay tribute to the inspirational filmmaker.

He is remembered for his powerful will to live in the face of overwhelming odds.

Online Editors

Entertainment Newsletter

Going out? Staying in? From great gigs to film reviews and listings, entertainment has you covered.

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment