Noonan bids tearful farewell to sister killed in car crash
Former finance minister Michael Noonan paid a tearful tribute to his sister Mary, who was one of three women killed in a road crash last week.
Mary Noonan (78) was driving herself and two friends, Mary Costello (73) and Mary Griffin (70), to Listowel when the collision occurred.
Ms Noonan and Ms Costello - whose husband Tom passed away six weeks ago following an illness - both died at the scene. Ms Griffin was airlifted to hospital and is making a steady recovery, it was heard.
Maeve Bradley (77), from Pallaskenry, who was driving the other car and who also died at the scene, was cremated following her funeral Mass.
The triple tragedy happened just outside the village of Loughill, Co Limerick, last Thursday.
Ms Noonan's funeral was held at the tiny Church of the Assumption in Loughill. Mourners included TDs and ministers past and present, among them Mary Harney, Willie O'Dea, Paschal Donohoe, and Patrick O'Donovan, as well as Mr Justice George Birmingham, president of the Court of Appeal who also served as a minister of state under Garret FitzGerald.
The Taoiseach was represented by aide de camp Capt Angela Lyons.
Fr Tom O'Connor, head of the Kiltegan Fathers, assisted by Loughill parish priest Fr Austin McNamara, summed up the mood as he addressed the Noonan family: "Our words count for little but we hope our presence is a help to you."
In an emotional reflection, Michael Noonan prayed for all the families involved. He said his sister was the "focal point" and "keystone of the family".
Mary Noonan qualified as a nurse in England and was later stationed as health and safety nurse at the Aughinish Alumina refinery, Askeaton.
Mr Noonan told mourners his sister had delivered "innumerable children" at Limerick's maternity hospital, which, he joked, had been "a great political asset" to him when he was canvassing.
Flowers picked from her own garden were laid by her coffin, to symbolise her "love of nature and gardening". "We are returning her to Mount Trenchard to be buried among the trees and wildflowers she loved so well," Mr Noonan said.
In Pallaskenry, Fr John Dunworth told Ms Bradley's heartbroken family the community would rally around them. Speaking prior to the Mass, Fr Dunworth said the mother of three had spent much of her life giving to others, "nursing in Saudi Arabia and Oman".