Noonan's bedside vigil for ailing wife Flor (68)
FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan was today by his wife's bedside after her health deteriorated rapidly.
Florence Noonan (68) has been in a nursing home for several years after developing Alzheimer's when she was just 54.
She was moved to Limerick Regional Hospital last week suffering from pneumonia.
Mr Noonan maintained a bedside vigil last night, opting not to attend a meeting of Eurozone finance ministers in Brussels because of the seriousness of her condition.
The couple have been married for almost 43 years and have five children -- three sons and two daughters.
A source told the Herald: "Flor is very unwell at the minute. Michael couldn't face into leaving the country at the minute.
"Everybody's heart goes out to the Noonan family -- they have had a very tough time."
Speaking of wife's battle with Alzheimer's disease in 2010, Mr Noonan struggled to hold back tears.
He had never talked publicly about her condition up to then.
During a hugely emotional TV interview, he described how she had lost all mobility and was in the final stages of the devastating illness.
He explained that, at the age of just 54, Flor uncharacteristically began forgetting things.
Her mother died from Alzheimer's and the former primary school teacher had always feared she would succumb to it as well.
"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," he told Pat Kenny on Frontline.
The family's private battle got worse during Mr Noonan's time as Fine Gael leader between 2001 and 2002.
"There was a lot of stress in the family," he said, adding: "Flor took a full part in the 2002 General Election. When I was out around the country doing the leader things she was working at home and out canvassing every night."
Mr Noonan held back tears as he outlined how he had to make the difficult decision to move his wife to a nursing home.
She had begun suffering from seizures similar to epileptic fits and the family decided to get help from a facility with a dedicated Alzheimer's unit in Askeaton, Co Limerick.