Teacher who was a perfect foil for her strong political husband, writes Daniel McConnell
Her passing may not have been a surprise, but for her husband Michael, her children, grandchildren and siblings, Florence Noonan's death last week has left them heartbroken.
Florence was a public figure in Limerick not only because of her husband's political career, in which she was instrumental, but in her own right as a teacher in the renowned Crescent College.
Tributes from across the political divide have poured in for the Finance Minister's wife who died at the age of 68.
Described by many as a wonderfully kind and generous person, Florence, a native of Castlemaine, Co Kerry, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, aged just 54, as revealed by Michael in a moving interview on Pat Kenny's Frontline programme in May 2010.
Given her worsening condition, Michael and the family had no choice but to move her from home to full-time nursing care.
"She was tremendously popular, very personable figure around Limerick," former minister Willie O'Dea said in warm tribute.
"She was a wonderful political asset to Michael given how warm was the affection for her in the community, especially in the early days. He wouldn't hold back, but she was his perfect foil," he added.
"She was a lovely, lovely woman. A dedicated family woman with a quiet disposition," said local Fine Gael TD Kieran O'Donnell.
Married for 43 years, Florence was by Michael's side for many of the ups and downs he has endured during his 31 years in Dail Eireann. Alas, she was not well enough to share in his happiness on becoming Finance Minister one year ago.
After contracting pneumonia two weeks ago, Florence was moved from her nursing home to the acute care ward at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital. She passed away last Thursday night at Milford Hospice, surrounded by her family and friends.
Florence Noonan is survived by her husband Michael, children Deirdre, Orla, Tim, John, and Michael; 10 grandchildren; brother and sisters.
Her funeral will take place today following requiem mass at 2pm, at St Paul's Church, Dooradoyle, followed by burial at Mount Trenchard Cemetery, Loughill, Co Limerick.