Eileen O’Connell with Ger, Paul, Margaret and Catherine – she already had seven children before these four arrived in 1965
ON THE FRONT page of last week’s Leader was a gorgeous photo of Limerick’s latest quads but the O’Connells, from Pallasgreen, also have not been forgotten about.
Born in 1965, Ger, Paul, Margaret and Catherine became Ireland’s first surviving quadruplets. In more recent times the Slattery and Downey quads have hit the headlines but a Donegal man found a newspaper from when the O’Connells were front page news.
Neil contacted the Leader after finding an old copy of the Irish Independent in his home last month.
“We were moving house and I was clearing out the attic when I came across the paper. It is dated June 14, 1965 so it must have been there for over 50 years. I had a read of it out of curiosity and the front page story was about the O’Connell quads. I did a bit of googling and found a Limerick Leader article at the time of their 50th birthday,” said Neil, who contacted the newsroom to find an address for one of the O’Connells.
As Ger is the county notes correspondent for Pallasgreen it wasn’t a difficult task.
“I thought they might like the newspaper. It’s gone very yellow and half the story has been eaten at this stage but the original photo and headline are intact. If they are interested I’d be more than happy to send on the original,” said Neil.
They certainly were interested and Neil took a photo with his stepson Paddy Sharpe before he posted on the paper. Ger said it was a lovely surprise and coincidence that Lisa Fenton and Wayne Downey’s quads were on the front page of last week’s Leader.
“The date in June was when we were leaving the Regional Maternity, after spending almost six months there,” said Ger.
It was huge news at the time with regular updates on their conditions. One such headline in the Leader was, ‘Limerick quads battle on for survival’.
“What is amazing is that when you meet people and when they hear of our birthday they will say ‘I knew where I was’ or ‘I remember what happened on that day’ and so on. It's a privilege to get the message from Neil and that he kept the newspaper all this time, which has made its way to Pallasgreen in a very fragile and discoloured state,” said Ger.
Interestingly the O’Connells have hundreds of newspaper cuttings from that time put into albums but the one from Neil is one they don't have.
“Also, it was great to see the front cover of last week’s edition of the Leader with the Downey quads. And the wonderful story of the Slattery quads from Caherconlish, where Lisa Fenton is also from, who continue to thrive. It is only a few miles from Pallasgreen so there must be something in the water around East Limerick!” said Ger, who wished both sets of quads every health and happiness in the future.
As tough as it is to raise four tots now, what must it have been like 50 years ago? Ger’s parents Eileen and James already had seven children when the four were born two months premature. They wouldn’t have minded a generous donation of nappies like the Slatterys got from Pampers and the Downeys got from Lidl last week.
“I often heard our late mother talking about all the trouble she had with the cloth nappies - you can imagine,” said Ger, who thanked Neil for his thoughtfulness in sending on the newspaper.