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‘We were a bit of a novelty’: The four leap year children in one Dublin family

Not only has Patricia O’Shea a twin born on February 29th but she has two other siblings, again twins, born four years before on the same date

Entering a date of birth online has become second nature for the vast majority of us, whether logging into sites or apps or signing up for subscriptions.

For a very small minority of people, however, their birthday can result in an error message informing them the date inputted is invalid, or the option simply does not exist, depending on the website.

It is one of the very few cons of being born on a leap day, according to Patricia O’Shea, whose situation is far rarer than simply being born on February 29th.

Despite just a 1 in 1,461 chance of being born on leap day, not only does Ms O’Shea have a twin but she has two other siblings, again twins, who were born four years before her on the exact same date - February 29th.


Today, she and her twin brother Robert who lives in Sydney, Australia turn 16 despite being born in 1960, she joked.

“The good thing about it is that people will always remember your birthday,” she said.

Ms O’Shea and her siblings have questioned just how rare their case might be, having never heard of two sets of twins sharing February 29th as their birthday while she herself has yet to meet someone outside of her family who shares the same birthday.

“We happened to be born between 5am and 6am and Jimmy and Anne were also born between 5am and 6am. My mother nearly had a canary,” she said adding that her mother Chrissie, who passed away two years ago, was in “shock” at the time.

“She couldn’t believe it,” she said.

She and her siblings came to be local celebrities in Church Street, Co Dublin, and quickly became known as the “leap year twins”.

“We were a bit of a novelty,” she said adding that neighbours and friends would often jump at the opportunity to visit or help out.

Managing four birthdays at once was no simple feat, but Ms O’Shea’s “wonderful” mother went all out every year, she said.

In the years where her birthday is non-existent, she and her siblings make do by celebrating on February 28th and March 1st.

Just in time for her birthday today, her daughter Louise flew home from Canada, where she has lived for two years, to surprise her mother.

“I talk to her every day and yesterday she didn’t talk to me so I messaged her asking if she was okay and she said she was busy working,” she said, laughing, adding that, to her shock, her daughter arrived at the front door not long afterwards.

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