Baby Sophia born six minutes into new year at Limerick Maternity Hospital

SHE weighed in at seven pounds and 10 ounces and arriving at just six minutes after midnight on New Year's Day, there's a chance she could be the first Irish citizen born in 2011.

SHE weighed in at seven pounds and 10 ounces and arriving at just six minutes after midnight on New Year's Day, there's a chance she could be the first Irish citizen born in 2011.

But baby Sophia wasn't at all fussed and was "happy out, sleeping away" beside mum Liz Ann McCarthy at the MidWestern Regional Maternity Hospital on the Ennis Road.

Sophia, who arrived two days late, is the beautician's fourth child. She lives in Dooradoyle with her partner Guy Coppola, nephew of city restaurateur Alfredo.

Reports from Dublin suggest that the earliest arrival in the capital was 25 minutes into the new year and Sophia was the first arrival of 2011.

Sophia is also the 25th grandchild of Elizabeth McCarthy from Lynwood Park.

"I'm running away from them at this stage," joked grandmother, "What's that they say? Dial 99 for Supernanny. I'm there when I'm needed though. We're absolutely delighted."

Down the corridor meanwhile, John Francis Cleary's arrival at 1.45am made Foynes man John the first County Limerick father of 2011. But there was an immediate dispute with mum Emer over whether this was a Clare or a Limerick baby. The couple live in Emer's home town of Ennis.

"He can have dual citizenship for a while but we could very easily move house between now and senior championship age," said John.

"He was born on New Year's Day for the GAA so it's not accidental. He'll be the oldest lad on the team for his age group," joked Emer.

John Francis weighed 10 pounds and nine ounces and has one older brother, Michael.

"It is great to leave 2010 behind us and I'm sure a lot of people feel that way all over the country. This is the best possible way to start the New Year and hopefully things will get better before he's too much older," said Emer.

Four babies had been born at the Maternity Hospital by 10am on New Year's Day during what matron Eileen Ronan reported was "a very busy night".

There were over 5200 deliveries at the Regional Maternity Hospital in 2010.