The funeral of film-maker Simon Fitzmaurice took place in Greystones on Saturday, with mourners told the My Name Is Emily director remained “full of humour” before his death, having lived with Motor Neurone Disease since 2008.
Mr Fitzmaurice died peacefully at St Vincents Hospital in Dublin on Thursday afternoon. His funeral took place at St Killian’s Church in his native Greystones on Saturday afternoon, with the church full of people wishing to play last respects to the celebrated and beloved writer and director who defied the odds not only to live much longer than doctors initially thought but who continued to work despite living with the debilitating condition.
The funeral was attended by Mr Fitzmaurice’s wife Ruth (nee O’Neill, originally from Ardee) and their five young children – Jack, Raife, Arden, Sadie and Hunter. Jack Raife and Arden read prayers of the faithful at the mass, while twins Sadie and Hunter brought forward offertory gifts.
Ruth performed a reading of The Day is Done by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow while Mr Fitzmaurice’s sister Ruth spoke to those assembled at St Killian’s. “Simon was full of energy, I don’t know where he got his energy,” she said. “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.
“Simon the poet, Simon the writer, the joker, the debater, the storyteller, the director, Simon was full of pure love. Love for his family. Love for his friends. Simon you will be so very, very missed, we love you,” she continued.
Mr Fitzmaurice was first diagnosed with MND in 2008 and was given three to four years to live. He lived another nine years, writing and directing his feature film debut My Name Is Emily and writing his memoir, It’s Not Yet Dark. A documentary – following Mr Fiztmaurice’s journey in making the film – recently debuted in Irish cinema. It is directed by Ardee-born film-maker Frankie Fenton.
Among those also in attendance at Saturday’s funeral were Lieut Cmdr Patricia Butler, aide-de-camp to President Michael D Higgins and James Vincent McMorrow, who performed one of Mr Fitzmaurice’s favourite songs We Don’t Eat.
The funeral mass was ended by Mr Fitzmaurice’s uncle Bobby who read a poem dedicated to his nephew. “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.”
Mr Fitzmaurice, 43, is also survived by his parents Florence and Damien.