An overwhelming sadness pervaded the halls of the Wexford CBS last week as news broke of the untimely passing of a beloved teacher and colleague Sinead Breen (43).
Ms Breen, of Harpoonstown, Bridgetown, had attended work as normal on Monday morning and while out at lunchtime suddenly took seriously ill. She was rushed to Beaumont Hospital where she sadly passed away on Wednesday morning.
Her sudden passing comes as a devastating blow to her beloved husband Philip and their three young daughters Chloe, Laura and Caitlin. She is also survived by her heartbroken parents Con and Margaret Cosgrave, her brothers Eugene, Cornelius, Eoin and Christopher and her mother in law Nuala. There was an air of disbelief at the CBS last week, where Ms Breen was a much loved member of staff.
'Sinead was a highly respected and well liked teacher here since 2002,' said principal Michael McMahon. 'She excelled in her subject areas of Maths, Geography and Computer Science. She was head of the maths department and also held the role of numeracy team leader. She also made a huge contribution to the lives of so many students through her role as Transition Year Coordinator where she organised various workshops, activities, trips and work experience for all the students.'
Just last week, Ms Breen's smiling face could be seen on the pages of The Wexford People as she posed for a photo with this year's transition year students at their annual awards.
'Sinead was very popular with both staff and students,' Mr McMahon continued. 'She was also heavily involved in extra-curricular activities in the school, whether that was on the stage in the school's talent shows or in organising maths quizzes. On her new classroom wall, she hung the following message "Work Hard, Give It Your Best, You Can Do This, Do What You Love, Love What You Do, Stay Humble". It was there to inspire the lads, but it ideally sums up Sinead Breen.'
On behalf of everyone at the CBS, Mr McMahon offered his deepest sympathies to Ms Breen's family and stated that the school had implemented a Critical Incident Management Plan with supports in place to provide ongoing help to members of the school community struggling to come to terms with the devastating news.
On Friday, Ms Breen made one last journey to the CBS as her funeral cortège paused for a moment outside the school, where pupils, past and present, had gathered to pay their respects and remember a much loved member of the teaching staff. The tricolour, flying at half mast, fluttered in the breeze as students past and present recalled the positive influence the mother of three had been on them.
From there, Sinead's remains made the final journey to her parish church of Mulrankin where a huge crowd spilled out across the grounds. There were emotional scenes as her coffin was carried into the church and her funeral Mass was overseen by her first cousin, Fr Rodger Doyle, along with Fr Denis Doyle, Fr Jim Doyle and Fr James Cullen, Chaplain at the CBS.
Sinead's heartbroken husband Philip, to whom she would've been married to 19 years in July, bravely addressed the congregation of mourners.
'Sinead was the most beautiful wife and amazing mother,' he said. 'She loved our girls so much and if they turn out to be anything like her, the world will be a much better place.'
Philip recalled the first time he met Sinead, in a place where so many romances began - on the dance-floor at Bogarts.
He recalled that it had taken some persuasion Sinead's mother Margaret for her to see him again and it's something that he's been grateful for ever since.
'Sinead was the most influential person,' he continued.
'Over the years, she moulded me into the person that I am today. She was an amazing influencer and always saw the best in people. I was so lucky to have her.'
He spoke of how proud Sinead had been of their home and how she also had a second family - everyone at the CBS.
'She loved teaching so much,' he said.
'She was always very proud of the all the kids she managed to help over the years.'
Concluding what was a beautiful eulogy, Philip said:
'Sinead, you're my best friend and I'll always love you.'
Later in the ceremony, Fr Rodger Doyle said that his cousin was a wonderful influence on everyone she came into contact with.
'She was one of the rare people that everyone loved,' he said.
'The kindness and joy about her shun out in every company. She was a shining light to everyone she met. Her beautiful singing and warm smile lit up this church community on many occasions.'
'Nobody could've done more for their children than Sinead,' he added, speaking of her devotion to her family.
'Her family can look back knowing that she lived a life full of love and joy in a beautiful home.'
After a moving funeral mass, Sinead's remains were brought to her final resting place at St Mary's Cemetery in Kilmore.
She is sadly missed by her heartbroken family, sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, extended family and a large circle of friends gathered over the years who are devastated by her passing. May she rest in peace.