Warning video includes nudity: 100 naked swimmers bare all to raise money for MND

Graham Clifford

As 100 naked extras took to the Irish Sea, to shoot a scene for a new film directed by MND sufferer Simon Fitzmaurice, our own Graham Clifford joins them and bares all for the cause.

“And when I give the signal you all drop your robes and run straight for the sea” – the instructions of the film crew member on Greystones beach drew beaming smiles and giggles from some, expressions of horror from others. My reaction was somewhere in between.

Waiting for the off on Greystones beach at the "My name is Emily " Film Shoot

Days earlier I’d received an e-mail from the Irish Motor Neuron Disease Association asking if I’d like to be an extra in ‘My Name is Emily’ – a film written and directed by Simon Fitzmaurice – himself an MND sufferer.

Simon, a father of five and author of the recently released ‘It’s Not Dark Yet’, started writing this film by hand but finished it typing with his eyes on an iris-recognition screen, having been diagnosed with the disease in 2008.

The film tells of teenager Emily’s poignant search for the father she lost and she finds love along the way. Featuring Harry Potter star Evanna Lynch, alongside Michael Smiley and George Webster, the film was made possible thanks to thousands of euro raised through crowd-funding.

Calling it the ‘Ice bum challenge’ the experience for want-to-be extras was sold as a more daring version of the fund-raising craze involving buckets of ice…and I was intrigued.

I’d always wanted to be a film-extra….but for this scene there was a twist - clothes weren’t welcome.

The extras would run en masse into the icy waters off Wicklow wearing nothing but a smile.

On a drab afternoon in Greystones we gather under a black canapé on the beach.

The relentless drizzle fails to dampen the spirits of those who’ve decided to take the naked plunge – all with their own personal reasons for participating.

Waiting for the off on Greystones beach at the "My name is Emily " Film Shoot

“A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with MND so I’m thinking of him today”, says Petra Kindler.

The German born writer lives in Waterford and she recently performed comedy in Edinburgh telling me “nothing can be as scary as that so this should be okay. And look I’m German, we literally don’t get our knickers in a twist because, well there are no knickers – taking off our clothes is no problem.”

Malahide’s Eddie Corry admits appearing nude in public isn’t a regular past-time of his. “Normally, at my local leisure centre I side step into the shower, careful not to show off too much, so this is going to be a massive experience” he jokes.

All shapes and sizes in a multitude of colourful gowns await instructions.

Getting changed after on Greystones beach at the "My name is Emily " Film Shoot

Amongst them is beautician Joyce Coffey Wall, from Dungarvan, who will be co-starring in the film alongside her father’s vintage car!

She explains “Well my dad’s Renault 4 car is being used in the film – it’s the car Amy drives across the country to find her father. The film-makers spotted it on Facebook and got in touch. So I thought this was a great opportunity to be involved in the same film as dad’s car. I’m a bit nervous though – I’ve never done anything like this before.”

For Janie Lazar, from Dun Laoghaire, a close friend who has MND and his devoted family are forefront in her mind.

Sian Brennan from Balbriggan had to convince her boss to give her the day off, Dundrum’s Colm O’Brien tested the water beforehand and reassures me that the temperature is fine, and members of the Irish Naturist Association say that this will be a ‘liberating’ experience.

As I grow a little more conscious of the growing crowds I can hear Jermaine Stewart’s 80’s classic ‘We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off (To Have A Good Time)’ ringing in my ears.

They're off on Greystones beach "My name is Emily " Film Shoot

From Drogheda came fresh-faced Ellen Kruger who explained “Secretly I’ve always wanted to do something like this. I’m not apprehensive really – sure I’m just one bum amongst thousands!”

And 66-year-old grandmother Sheena McMahon was taking it all in her stride saying “I’m a world traveller and I do all sorts of crazy things. I just got back from North Korea and Afghanistan and before that I was in Burma so I love throwing myself into new adventures. Taking part in this nude challenge is something to tell my grandchildren.”

The extras on set raised over €2,000 for the Motor Neuron Disease Association before taking part.

The buzz is good, I’m feeling calm and then out of nowhere a booming voice calls us into position.

We do two trial runs, with gowns on, sprinting like celebrating GAA supporters running onto the pitch at full-time, from the top of the beach down to the water’s edge.

Dummy-runs over its time to let it all hang out.

The signal is given and 100 robes drop silently to the sand – some, more quickly than others.

For a second we stand there bare as the day we were born, the afternoon drizzle falling onto our bits and bobs. I try not to look at those around me but then realise that’s plain unnatural. Awkwardly I turn to a middle-aged woman to my right and utter the words ‘fine day for it’, you can take the man out of Kerry…

Actor Michael Smiley delivers his line and off we sprint.

Amid yelps and hollers we race into the sea.

The welcoming waves gush over us and the liberation that was promised has been realised.

For a couple of minutes we jump around in collective euphoria, no notice taken of the chilly water temperature - 100 naked souls as one. It turns out Jermaine Stewart was wrong.

To donate to the Irish Motor Neuron Disease Association visit www.imnda.ie