When stroke strikes unexpectedly

By June Shannon Heart News   |   24th Sep 2019

Hundreds of people are taking part in the Irish Heart Foundation’s Heart Hero 5k in Wexford on Saturday to remember their Heart Hero Sinead Breen, who died of a sudden stroke aged 43

“Sinead was the best she could be whether that was as a wife, mammy, daughter, sister, friend or teacher. She made us all breathe a little easier. May she now breathe a little easier and may her gentle soul rest in eternal peace.”

These were the words of the Principal of CBS Secondary School in Wexford at the funeral of Sinead Breen, a hugely respected and much-loved teacher at the school, wife and mother of three, who died suddenly following a haemorrhagic stroke almost four months ago. She was just 43.

Sinead finished up her last class on Monday 27th May and went for lunch with her sister in-law. It was at the restaurant that Sinead suffered a serious haemorrhagic stroke. Meanwhile her husband Philip who was working in Dublin at the time received the devastating phone call everybody dreads.

She was rushed to Wexford General and from there to Beaumont Hospital in Dublin. Despite best efforts to save her, which included two operations, Sinead sadly died two days later with her family by her side.

“We were all with Sinead when she died… and I will never forget having to tell my three kids that their mother was going to die, it is still in my head, “said Philip, her loving husband who is bereft without her. Their three girls, 10-year-old twins Caitlin and Laura and 14-year-old Chloe, desperately miss their “mam”.

“Sinead was the most influential person in my life over the past 26 years. Over the years Sinead was moulding me into the person I am today. I didn’t know she was doing this at the time, but it shows what an amazing influencer she was. Not only in her field, but as a person and she always saw the best in people,” Philip said.

" She always saw the best in people,”

Philip Breen

Sinead married Philip in 2000 and they happily settled down looking forward to a long life together. Philip said they made plans to retire early and spend time together but now with a broken heart Philip says he needs “a new plan.”

“She had two families in her life; she had her school and her own family,” Philip said.

As the Head of the Maths department and Transition Year Coordinator in CBS Secondary School Wexford, Sinead was a highly popular and hugely respected teacher and colleague. Philip recalled how she sat anxiously outside the exam hall as her students did their Leaving Cert maths papers and waited for when they finished to go through the paper with them and allay any concerns they may have.

At Sinead‘s funeral all the students from Wexford CBS formed a guard of honour outside the school which for Philip was testament to the highest regard they had for “Mrs Breen”.

Kind, caring and unassuming, Sinead was the heart of her family. The only daughter, she was very close to her mum and dad and four brothers. She and Philip lived next door to Sinead’s parents, and Philip said Sinead was an amazing wife and dedicated mother to her girls.

Sinead was a healthy, happy and active person, and it is for that reason that Philip, her entire family, many friends, colleagues and students have decided to take part in the Irish Heart Foundation’s Heart Hero 5k on Saturday 28th of September.

As well as remembering and honouring Sinead’s life, Philip also wants to raise awareness of stroke and to show people just how sudden and devastating it can be.

As well as remembering and honouring Sinead’s life, Philip also wants to raise awareness of stroke and to show people just how sudden and devastating it can be.


“She was an amazing woman. She took everything in her stride. She had heart surgery in 2009 after the twins were born in 2008 because she had a hole in the heart that she had from birth that showed up when she was 20 weeks pregnant with the twins,” Philip explained.

“For me it’s to raise money for the Irish Heart Foundation and to raise awareness of what can happen …. we never thought for one minute that I would have received that phone call, especially at 43 years of age in a healthy woman,” Philip said.

For Philip the event in Wexford on the 28th of September is also for Sinead’s three girls Caitlin, Laura and Chloe.

He wants the girls to know that despite the tragedy there is always hope and above all to show them just how much people respected their precious mam.

“She is loved and missed with all my heart,” Philip said.

“Sinead and I always told the girls to be the best they can be and to be a good person is as important as anything else,” he added.

Sinead was indeed the best she could be, and she continues to inspire everyone around her to be better.

You can donate to the Sinead Breen Park Run page here 

For more information on the Heart Hero 5K event please see here


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