The family of Mary Noonan paid tribute to her at the Requiem Mass this Monday | Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22
“SHE will be buried among the trees and wildflowers she loved so well.” With these words, Limerick TD and former Finance Minister Michael Noonan made his final farewell to his sister Mary, who died last Thursday following the fatal traffic accident in Loughill which left three women, including Mary, dead and a fourth woman injured.
Hundreds of people, including current and former Oireachtas members, councillors, members of the judiciary and the Fine Gael party faithful were among those who gathered at the Church of Assumption, Loughill on Sunday evening and again this Monday to mark the unexpected and tragic death of Mary Noonan.
But neighbours and members of the Shannonside communities affected by the tragedy also came in large numbers to stand in solidarity and in mourning with the Noonan extended family.
At the end of a dignified and meaningful ceremony this Monday, Deputy Noonan, spoke from the altar on behalf of the family and painted a skilful and often humorous picture of his sister’s rich life.
“Mary was the focal point of our family. She was the link with the extended family. She was like the keystone,” he said.
Born on the banks of the Shannnon, a short distance from the church where her funeral Mass was taking place, Mary trained as a nurse in England, he explained, working there and in New York for a time before returning to the Maternity Hospital in Limerick. Her work in delivering innumerable babies across the county was a “great political asset” to him, Deputy Noonan joked. And he quipped, he used to remind people of it as a good way to get number ones.
Mary later worked at Aughinish and also trained as an addiction counsellor.
She had a wide range of interests, Deputy Noonan said, including golf, the GAA, travel, reading, the races and above all, her garden and nature. A simple posy of garden flowers was brought to the altar with the offertory gifts, a symbol of Mary’s love of nature and her desire to see her family thrive and blossom.
Family friend Fr Tom O’Connor, District Leader of the Kiltegan Fathers, led the concelebrated Mass said that while Mary’s death was unexpected and tragic, it was a source of consolation that she was “well prepared to meet her God.” A woman of deep faith, she lived by the Beatitudes, he said. “She was humble, she was merciful, she was a peacemaker,” he said. He also listed her many other good qualities, saying she was stylish. loyal, dedicated, hardworking, honest, direct, joyful.
Both he and Michael Noonan as well as parish priest Fr Austin McNamara extended their sympathy to the Costello and Bradley families, also grieving for their loss and extended best wishes to the injured woman Mary Griffin for a full recovery. They also thanked the gardai, the emergency services and the neighbours who helped out last Thursday night when the accident occurred.
Aide de camp for Taoiaseach Leo Varadkar, Capt Angela Lyons also attended the funeral Mass.