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‘We thought we’d have her a bit longer’ Pauline McLynn on the loss of both parents to stroke

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Pauline McLynn at the launch of the Irish Heart Foundation's act F.A.S.T- Minutes Matter campaign. Photo: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos

Pauline McLynn at the launch of the Irish Heart Foundation's act F.A.S.T- Minutes Matter campaign. Photo: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos

Pauline McLynn's mother Sheila

Pauline McLynn's mother Sheila

Pauline McLynn with her father Padraig

Pauline McLynn with her father Padraig

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Pauline McLynn at the launch of the Irish Heart Foundation's act F.A.S.T- Minutes Matter campaign. Photo: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos

Actor Pauline McLynn has spoken about the heart-breaking loss of her mother to stroke, some 17 years after her father died of the same cause.

The Father Ted star (60) was left devastated after losing her beloved mum Sheila (86) when she had a stroke in hospital last October.

Her father Padraig also died of a stroke at the age of 69 back in 2006 in what transpired to be a different kind of brain injury. She has also lost grandparents to stroke.

A stroke happens when the blood supply is blocked to a part of the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. 

McLynn said her mother’s death was “unexpected”.

“She had plenty of things wrong with her and she was 86 but it wasn’t any of those things that got her, that she was dealing with all of them quite well, health-wise but it was a stroke.

"And as it turns out, my father also died 17 years ago of a stroke as well. So it’s been written in the stars that I should be drawing people’s attention to what to do,” she said.

Speaking as part of the Irish Heart Foundation’s (IHF) campaign ‘Act FAST – Minutes Matter’, the well-known actor said that a quick response can result in a far better outcome for the survivor.

“When something like this touches the family, there’s no need to think there’s nothing you can do because you can help and time is of the essence,” she said.

“If you think that the person is having an episode that you suspect might be a stroke, make the call to emergency services and you’ll save so much more of the person. Some two million brain cells die every minute after you’ve had a stroke so the sooner you get them help, the better in terms of their recovery.”

Today saw her donning a red wool coat that belonged to her late mother as she spoke about the events leading up to Sheila’s stroke.

“She was actually in hospital when this unexpectedly happened,” she said.

“She was surrounded by the best of help but there was no saving her. She had a lot of very slow-moving cancers and she opted to have nothing done with them and I 600pc agreed with her on that.

“The treatment at her age would have made her feel more ill. She fell and broke her hip and had a great operation to fix that. It was healing beautifully and they were about to send her to Rehab so she’d get back walking.

“And then Covid hit the hospital ward she was in so that all got closed down and in the middle of all that, she unexpectedly had a stroke.

"There’s two kinds of stroke. With my father, it was a blockage within the walls of his arteries so this caused all of the electrics in his brain to fail. He had a lovely rest in Castlebar hospital and then shuffled off.

“My mother had the other kind where a vessel had burst and there was a tear on her brain and it was quite a large one so there was no saving her. But she was elderly and the hospital tried everything. But this can also happen to very young people too.”

She and her family have been trying to come to terms with the loss and McLynn said it has been difficult to process as it came on so suddenly.

“She knew it was her time and she had a very gentle passing so that was great. But it’s tough, certainly. We thought we’d have her a bit longer and it was unexpected. But she honestly was entertaining people up until she went,” she said.

As part of the IHF’s campaign, she wants to warn people to ‘Act FAST’ and look out for facial drooping, arm weakness, slurred speech and act in a timely fashion by calling emergency services immediately. 



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