The school year in Scoil Mhuire, Newtownforbes got off to an exciting start last week, as the school welcomed four sets of twins to Junior Infants.
Ewan and Liam O’Brien, Rachel and Ava O’Loughlin, Grainne and Cathal Lynch and Laoise and Ella Hopkins all started school on Monday, September 2.
Laoise and Ella’s mother, and founder of the Longford Twin and Multiple Group, Helen Hopkins recalls finding out about the four sets of twins starting school, and laughs “I remember thinking what a great story for the Leader or RTÉ news”.
Helen explains that Laoise and Ella were very excited for school to begin, particularly Ella, who would count down the “sleeps” until school. On Sunday, September 1, Ella was excited to exclaim “Mammy, one more sleep and tomorrow there will be no more sleeps!”
Happily, Ella and Laoise enjoyed their first day. Many of the children had already known others in their class from Montessori, and were allowed to sit together. Helen credits this, along with the kindness and organisation of the teacher Ms Hussey and classroom assistant Ms Hopkins, for the smooth transition for the girls into school life.
As Helen was a member of the Irish Multiple Births Association (IMBA), and a founder of the Midlands Twin and Multiple Club, Ella and Laoise had grown up attending twin and multiple clubs, therefore, meeting three other sets of twins was nothing new to them. “Grainne and Cathal have just realised that not all twins are boy/girl” Helen adds “and we can see them quietly considering if this is a good thing or not!”
When the girls were a year old, Helen joined the IMBA committee. “The nearest meet-ups or parent and multiple groups at the time were in Dublin or Galway so I went about setting up my own Midlands Twin and Multiple Club” Helen explains. The club was set up in Mullingar, but now Helen has handed over that group and has stepped down from the IMBA to concentrate on the formation of a Longford Group. “We offer support and share advice in a friendly, informal atmosphere over a cuppa while the children play” Helen explains, adding that she is hoping to organise the first Longford meet soon.
Now well into the second week, the nerves and anxieties of day one are banished. “Speaking for all parents,” Helen adds, “I think once we saw they were happy, our own anxieties faded away and we are looking forward to this phase in the childrens’ lives. We are all proud to see our double blessings reach their next milestone.”