Saturday 22 September 2018

'Truly inspiring' film-maker Fitzmaurice dies aged 43

The late Simon Fitzmaurice
The late Simon Fitzmaurice

Seán O'Grady

Film-maker Simon Fitzmaurice has died at the age of 43 after a battle of almost a decade with motor neurone disease (MND).

The Wicklow man was diagnosed in 2008 and was given four years to live.

At the time of his diagnosis, Fitzmaurice was a father to two young children and his wife Ruth was pregnant with their third child.

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

Fitzmaurice was left paralysed, unable to speak, breathe or swallow without artificial help, and communicated using a computer that was directed by his eyes.

Despite the odds, he still went on to write and direct the critically acclaimed film 'My Name Is Emily', which was released in Ireland last year.

Starring 'Harry Potter' actress Evanna Lynch, it went on to be nominated for eight Ifta awards.

The film was made after a crowd-funding campaign which gained support from several celebrities, including Colin Farrell, Lenny Abrahamson, Jim Sheridan and Alan Rickman.

He also published a memoir called 'It's Not Yet Dark', which was written using an eye-gaze computer.

It was subsequently made into a documentary narrated by Colin Farrell and told the story of his diagnosis of MND and how it impacted upon Fitzmaurice and his family.

Well wishes were sent by friends and fans, who praised his film-making skills and his bravery in the face of adversity.

Director Lenny Abrahamson said: "Simon Fitzmaurice was a profoundly brave man, who managed to love and create through an unimaginably cruel ordeal."

'Outlander' actress Catriona Balfe also paid tribute. "So sad to hear about the passing of Simon Fitzmaurice. A truly inspiring human. Condolences to his family," she said.

Comedian Jarlath Regan described him as "a supremely talented man with a bulletproof spirit", while Ray D'Arcy's wife Jenny said that he was "a beautiful human being".

Simon Fitzmaurice is survived by his wife Ruth and their five children: Jack (11), Raife (10), Arden (8) and twins Sadie and Hunter (5).

Irish Independent

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