Director Simon Fitzmaurice’s funeral told of ‘love of life, family’

Acclaimed film-maker ‘jolly’ up to his death despite battle with motor neurone disease

Wicklow-born film-maker Simon Fitzmaurice has died of motor neurone disease at the age of 43.

 

Film director Simon Fitzmaurice remained “full of humour” and “jolly and courageous” right up until his death, despite his difficult battle with motor neurone disease (MND), his funeral Mass heard at the weekend.

St Kilian’s Church in his native Greystones overflowed with mourners wishing to pay their respects to the writer and filmmaker, who died on Thursday.

Those in attendance heard Mr Fitzmaurice was “full of love” for his work, his family and life in general.

“He loved people. He always found the beauty, the vulnerable beauty, of a person,” his sister Kate Fitzmaurice said in an address following the Mass. “He always made you feel special. He had that ability to look you in the eyes and really see you.”

Fianna Fáil TD Stephen Donnelly (left) with digital artist Phil McDarby at the funeral of Simon Fitzmaurice at St Kilian’s Church, Blacklion, Greystones. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
Fianna Fáil TD Stephen Donnelly (left) with digital artist Phil McDarby at the funeral of Simon Fitzmaurice at St Kilian’s Church, Blacklion, Greystones. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

She added: “Simon was full of energy, I don’t know where he got his energy. He was always go, go, go, no time to be wasted. He had an exhilaration and love of life, full of laughter and life all the time, while also managing to be sensitive and thoughtful.”

'Full of pure love'

Mr Fitzmaurice was diagnosed with MND in 2008, although he continued to write and later directed his first feature film, titled My Name is Emily. He outlived an initial life expectancy of four years beyond diagnosis, and in 2014 produced the memoir It’s Not Yet Dark detailing his struggles with the illness.

The funeral of film director Simon Fitzmaurice, with his wife Ruth and children, family and friends, arriving at St Kilian’s Church, Blacklion, Greystones, today. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
The funeral of film director Simon Fitzmaurice, with his wife Ruth and children, family and friends, arriving at St Kilian’s Church, Blacklion, Greystones, today. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Each of Mr Fitzmaurice’s five children played a part in the ceremony, with Jack, Raife and Arden reading prayers of the faithful, while twins Sadie and Hunter brought forward offertory gifts.

His wife Ruth read The Day is Done by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, while Mr Fitzmaurice’s close friend, digital artist Phil McDarby, recited the late filmmaker’s own poem Heart.

The funeral of film director Simon Fitzmaurice at St Kilian’s Church, Blacklion, Greystones, today. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
The funeral of film director Simon Fitzmaurice at St Kilian’s Church, Blacklion, Greystones, today. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

The Mass was preceded by a performance of We Don’t Eat by Dublin-based singer James Vincent McMorrow, which was said to be one of Mr Fitzmaurice’s favourite songs.

Mr Fitzmaurice’s uncle Bobby closed the ceremony with a poem dedicated to his memory: “Simon’s the strong oak tree, and his children the leaves. Simon’s love for Ruth, Jack, Raife, Arden, Sadie and Hunter will never wither. Somehow jolly and courageous, Simon stayed the course, night and day Simon did it his way. In paradise fare thee well, may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”