Ireland’s Finance Minister Michael Noonan is in mourning after the death of his wife of 43 years.
Florence Noonan died on Thursday night after a long battle with Alzheimers disease.
The 68-year-old former schoolteacher contracted pneumonia two weeks ago and passed away, surrounded by her family, at the Milford Care Centre in Castletroy, County Limerick.
Noonan almost quit politics in recent years to look after the mother of five but she refused to allow him give up his career.
The Finance Minister kept his family’s torment for many years before finally going public in an interview with broadcaster Pat Kenny in 2010 when he spoke of the onset of the disease when Florence was just 54.
“She’d lose her keys, she’d forget to bring her handbag with her. She’d go shopping and she couldn’t find the car in the car park,” recalled Noonan who revealed that doctors first thought her memory loss was triggered by depression.
“It was a concern she always had because her mother had died of Alzheimer’s and it was in her head that there was a possibility, so we were all very alert when she began to forget things,” he added.
“She was worried, she was very worried and she was tearful. There was a lot of stress in the family.’’
Minister Noonan recently told the Limerick Leader newspaper that he had never received such a huge reaction as that to his interview about Florence’s plight.
“All the burdens of caring have been transferred now from the family to personal carers,’’ he said recently after she was moved to a nursing home. “She’s quite comfortable but the nature of the disease is that you have a slow decline, so she’s declining slowly.”
Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny expressed his condolences to his colleague. “On behalf of the Government, I express my deep condolences to Minister for Finance Michael Noonan on the passing of his wife, Florence,” said Kenny.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Michael, their daughters and sons, and their extended family at this time of great loss.”