Happy tears as Bridgetown's famous five return to rotunda
For the Cassidy siblings in Bridgetown life in the spotlight is something they've grown used to. From the moment they entered this world they have made the headlines, their every milestone celebrated on a national scale, seen as another opportunity for a photo shoot.
And so when Ireland's only quintuplets turned 18 it stood to reason that they would once more be thrust into the public eye. A return to the place where it all began, the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin, saw Conor, Cian, Rory, Amy and Dearbhail reunited with some of the staff who helped care for them during their early days, a time when the tiny infants' survival was far from assured.
Aside from the obligatory photos and the celebratory cake, it was an emotional day for all concerned.
'Some of the same staff were there,' said the children's mam, Veronica. 'We met one of the nurses who would have been the first to hold one of the lads. There was a lot of tears, but they were happy tears.'
Born on August 16, 2001, the quintuplets arrived after just 25 weeks, each weighing less than two pounds. The children remained in the Rotunda's neonatal unit until December of that year, their daily needs met by staff at the hospital.
Now healthy young adults, the Cassidys have begun their last year in secondary school, thoughts now firmly fixed on their Leaving Cert. And, according to Veronica, their plans for the future are as varied as one might expect.
'They're all pretty diligent when it comes to school. Cian takes it all in his stride, he's very into horse racing. Rory already knows what he wants to do, he wants to be a journalist, specifically a sports journalist, and hopes to go to DCU. Amy is into broadcasting too, and music. Cathal loves languages. And Derval would like to be a veterinary nurse,' said the proud mother.
However, Veronica admitted she is not looking forward to the prospect of her children heading to pastures new, whether it be college or elsewhere.
'I'm not looking forward to the prospect of them going, I'll be delighted for them obviously, but its a bit scary. All we can do is prepare them for it, if you can prepare someone for that,' she said. 'We'll miss them though. The quietness will be strange. We always sit down for dinner after school and talk about the day together, I know they'll miss doing that.'
Commenting on the prevalence of multiple births in Ireland, Professor Fergal Malone, Master of the Rotunda Hospital, said, 'With multiple births, there is a 95% survival rate for twins, 70% for triplets and 50% for quadruplets. It is clear however that quintuplets are very rare today, with the Cassidy quintuplets being the only set in Ireland, and the healthy survival rate of all five babies in a quintuplet pregnancy is quite exceptional.'
Right now though, as her children begin a new chapter in their lives, Veronica is excited to see what the future holds for 'The Famous Five'.
'I don't know how the next ten years will pan out or what they'll end up doing, but I'm exceptionally proud of them, they're great kids.'