Fermanagh couple’s joy at birth of grandkids a world apart on same day
A proud Co Fermanagh woman is celebrating the arrival of two new grandchildren - born on opposite sides of the world on the same day.
For Caroline Flanagan (60) and her husband Pat (61) from Derrylin, January 7, 2019 will be a joyful date they will never forget.
On that day the couple's son Sean and daughter Claire both welcomed the arrival of two bouncing and healthy babies: a boy born in Perth, Australia, and a girl who arrived in Vancouver, Canada.
The extraordinary coincidence is that although the two infants were born more than 9,000 miles apart, it was on the same day - if, like gran and grandad, you live in Northern Ireland.
However, because of the different time zones in Australia and Canada, they have different dates of birth.
Perth and Vancouver have a 16-hour time difference, Perth being eight hours ahead of us and Vancouver eight hours behind.
Baby Holly Sturgeon was the first of the new grandchildren to arrive on January 7, weighing in at 7lb 11.5oz.
She was born at 4.30am GMT in Vancouver, the first child of the Flanagans' daughter Claire and her husband Antony Sturgeon, who is from Belfast.
Claire (30), a construction engineer, and Antony (33), a university co-ordinator, married in November 2016 and moved to Canada the following year.
The couple had been expecting Holly to make an appearance in time for the New Year celebrations, as she was due on December 30.
For Caroline, the first week of 2019 has certainly been eventful.
On January 4 she retired from BT in Enniskillen, where she had worked for 24 years.
Then came the surprise two new arrivals three days later.
She told the Belfast Telegraph: "It has been quite the start to 2019 already after leaving work and then welcoming the two new grandchildren just a few days later.
"I have hardly left the phone down in a fortnight because there has been so much going on.
"Whenever Holly was born I phoned my daughter-in-law Caitriona in Australia to tell her the news.
"She and Sean were also expecting a baby, and just a couple of hours later Fionn arrived.
"He didn't give his parents much warning and the ambulance didn't make it in time, so he was born at home.
"Thankfully everything went smoothly and they were both taken to hospital afterwards to be checked over."
Weighing in at 6lbs 6oz, baby Fionn Flanagan is the second child for Sean and Caitriona.
The couple married in July 2015, and are already parents to 20-month-old Niamh.
Sean (34), also a construction engineer, and Derry native Caitriona (33), a nurse, have lived in the capital of Western Australia for 10 years.
"Fionn had been due on January 10 but also arrived on the 7th at 8am Irish time," Caroline said.
"Perhaps he couldn't stay put after his big cousin Holly arrived," Caroline said. Caroline and Pat, who have been married for 37 years, also have a daughter Judi (36), who lives in Belfast.
As she begins her retirement, there won't be much time to rest for the proud gran, as she is preparing to travel to Canada at the end of this month to meet little Holly.
She will also travel Down Under in the spring to visit little Fionn.
Caroline added: "I'm excited to travel to opposite sides of the world and meet the newest members of our family."