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Teachers see double as six sets of twins start school in Cork

The principal of Coláiste Choilm says: ‘We’ll eventually get to know who’s who’

Six sets of twins are starting first year at Coláiste Choilm and Gaelcholáiste Choilm in Ballincollig, Co Cork - Andrew and Alex Okpoy; Amber and Alanagh Healy; Adam and Ethan Butler; David and Jonathan Keane; Kamile and Mileta Riskute; and Conor and Aoife Morey. Photograph: Cathal Noonan

Teachers at Coláiste Choilm on the outskirts of Cork city face an unusual dilemma when first-years start school this week: how to tell no fewer than six sets of twins apart.

“We’ll eventually get to know who’s who, though it might take a little while,” said principal Michelle Sliney.

While six sets of twins all starting in the same school in the same year is unusual, it is not unprecedented.

In 2007, the first-year classes at Coláiste Choilm and Gaelcholáiste Choilm also included six sets of twins. Ms Sliney said teaching staff have already adjusted their double vision.

“They had various strategies to tell the students apart, so I guess they’ll be using them again,” she said.

While the transition from primary to second level can be a daunting one for many, several of the twins say they are eagerly awaiting the start of school.

“It’ll be very exciting to see so many other twins,” said Amber Healy (13) who will start alongside her sister Alanagh. “We’ve already made friends with another set of girl twins.”

The six sets of twins – a mixture of identical and fraternal twins – will be travelling to schools from from suburbs and villages such as Inniscarra, Ovens, Tower, Classes Lake and Ballincollig town.

They will be among more than 200 children starting first-year at Coláiste Choilm and Gaelcholáiste Choilm in Ballincollig, which is one of the biggest schools in the country.

Induction day

Ms Sliney said the school will hold an induction day for new students on Friday where they will be introduced to their new classmates and meet their tutors as well as transition-year students who will be their mentors for the year.

“Most students have come from neighbouring primary schools, so they all know someone or have friends. Very few come in here who don’t know anyone else,” she said.

From the outset, she says new students are encouraged to participate in extra-curricular activities available at the school such as the drama club, choir, robotics club or the many school sports teams.

Parents of twins, she says, will have the option of deciding whether they want them to remain in the same or separate classes. Some do better on their own, others do best together.

Amber and Alanagh Healy’s mother is sure of one thing: there will be no separating them.

“We’ll keep them together. They’ve been side by side all the way through school, they do their gaelic football, basketball and camogie together,” said Patricia Healy.

“They’re very excited to be meeting other twins. They all understand each other, in a way, and relate to each other. It’s lovely that they can share all of that.”

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