Is this Michael Noonan on Limerick’s William Street?

Alan English, editor

Reporter:

Alan English, editor

it’s a picture that reminds us of what we have lost: it’s summer 1977 and William Street is clearly bustling. Friends who have bumped into one another stop and chat.

it’s a picture that reminds us of what we have lost: it’s summer 1977 and William Street is clearly bustling. Friends who have bumped into one another stop and chat.

Meanwhile, a distinctive man in a suit notices that the scene is being captured – for posterity, as it turns out. And the mystery we’re asking Limerick Leader readers to solve this week is this: is that man the future Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan?

When I saw the picture – lurking among a collection of old negatives that were never published – I was triumphantly certain that here was a real discovery.

Surely those probing eyes, the questioning look, were unmistakable. In the summer of 1977 the man who would become the most senior Limerick politician ever to hold office had recently turned 34 and was a school teacher and county councillor. He was four years away from election to the Dail.

So the age profile fits – as well as the alertness befitting a politician who would take the Fine Gael leadership 24 years after this photograph was taken.

You might think it would be easy to confirm whether it is or isn’t him: but a phonecall to Mr Noonan didn’t solve it.

After close scrutiny, the word came back: he wasn’t sure, couldn’t say for certain. He didn’t want to say it was and find someone writing to us next week claiming to be the man in the picture.

Mr Noonan’s Limerick-based adviser Alan Kavanagh was convinced – at first.

But he looked again and wondered if the man in the picture has a few inches on his boss.

We’re hoping readers who knew Mr Noonan back then can confirm it for us – call 061-214503 or email us here.

The picture will be one of more than a dozen street scenes taken on the same day 35 years ago which we’ll feature across three pages in next week’s Leader.

For reasons unexplained they’ve never been published before and they’re a true delight.

They remind those of us old enough to remember – even if we were children then – the city centre as it used to be: a place that was always buzzing, alive with conversation.

It had what they call “footfall” these days.

It reminds us, too, of what we need to get back to. That’s a challenge for all of us - Michael Noonan very much included.