Published Friday, 13 December 2013
The minister was speaking as the once financially-crippled nation marked its exit from the European Union and International Monetary Fund's €85bn loan programme.
The country will officially exit the programme on Sunday and re-enter the money markets.
Ireland's finances, budgets and policies have been under intense scrutiny since the country agreed to the massive loan package in 2010.
Its debt masters - the IMF, the European Central Bank and European Commission, have carried out 12 intense reviews over the last three years and imposed a series of tough targets.
All of which were met by the state.
Mr Noonan said those who had suffered the most were the hundreds of thousands who lost their jobs and homes, and the young people who were forced to emigrate.
He said: "The real heroes and heroines of the story are the Irish people.
"They have had their taxes increased, they have had their services cut drastically and some of them, including public servants, have had very serious pay cuts.
"Everybody has had cuts in their pensions as well. But they have continued to support the government."
That is a huge testament to the fortitude and the forbearance of the people of Ireland, who rolled up their sleeves and understood that a job of work had to be done.
Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin described the day as a "milestone that many thought Ireland would never reach".
He added: "We now have a much greater control over our own destiny into the future."
However, both he and Mr Noonan made a cautionary warning that there was no cause for the country to "go mad" following the exit, insisting the government will have to remain committed to making "prudent" economic and social decisions.
Ireland has become the first country to exit the European support programme and EU President Jose Manuel Barroso congratulate both the government and the people on the work.
"Thanks to their efforts and sacrifices, Ireland will now be able to finance itself through its own efforts," Mr Barroso said.
"This result would not have been possible without the solidarity and significant financial support of the other EU member states.
"I would also like to pay tribute the efforts and contribution of the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund to the wide-ranging reform programme, which has now been successfully completed."
© UTV News