ONE couple had three good reasons to celebrate, when their first child was born in the early hours of the New Year and on their second wedding anniversary.
And, with such auspicious timing, baby Sophie Grace was instantly dubbed "a diva" by her delighted parents, Jenny and Joe Walsh, from Strand Road, Baldoyle, Co Dublin.
Sophie had delayed her grand entrance into the world just about as long as medics will allow, arriving 14 days after her due date and an exhausting 35 hours after Jenny first went into labour.
The tardy infant weighed in at 8lbs 3oz when she was born at 12.17am at the National Maternity Hospital, in Holles Street, Dublin, yesterday.
"She is a little dote," said her mother. "She came into the world peacefully and is very chilled out and mellow."
Jenny said she was on "a high" and had no idea she was expecting a baby girl. She was also pleased that the birth coincided with the couple's wedding date and the new year.
But Sophie's unexpectedly late arrival cost her the glory of being dubbed the country's first baby of 2013.
That honour fell to baby Leo Maples, who arrived over a week early at the Mid Western Regional Hospital in Limerick, weighing six pounds, 10.5 ounces.
His delighted parents, Carmel McNamara and Charles Maples – who live in Kilmihil, in Clare – were not expecting to see their new bundle of joy until next week but after a very short labour, Leo arrived at exactly 12.01am.
"I wasn't due until next Tuesday but my waters broke at home at around 2.45pm so we came straight into Limerick and got to the hospital around 4.15pm," explained Carmel.
The 30-year-old – who already has two daughters – named her first son after her father, who sadly passed away last January, aged 67.
She said that while daughter Kelly (9) would probably love the idea of a baby brother, her youngest daughter Aine, who is 17 months, might be a bit jealous. Leo also has a half-brother Daniel (19), who Carmel joked was old enough to be an on-call babysitter.
Margaret Quigley, assistant director of the Mid Western Regional, said: "We were delighted the first baby of 2013 was born here in Limerick. We are a very busy hospital but sometimes miss out on having the first baby of the new year."
Midwives Noreen Kelly and Fionuala Flavin, who have worked at the hospital for many years, delivered baby Leo.
Exactly two minutes after Leo's birth, a little girl, Lexi, was born to Christine Casey and Kieran Hodnett from Carrigtwohill, Co Cork, at Cork University Hospital.
The couple already have a son Matti (3) and a daughter Izzi, who is almost two, and mum Christine said having number three on New Year's Day was "a nice way to finish" their family.
Lexi was also late, having been due on December 26 and putting her mum through two false labours before finally making an entrance at 12.03am.
In Kerry, baby Jack Houlihan bounced into the world, weighing a healthy eight pounds and seven ounces at Kerry General Hospital at 12.29am, keeping his parents Kathleen (pictured above) and Dermot, from Tralee, waiting just over three days.
"There was no melodrama," said Kathleen, who particularly wanted to thank all the staff at the Gallarus and Ardfert wards at the maternity unit in Kerry General.
"He came nice and fast into the world for me. He seems to be very quiet so it's so far so good."