Twinkle toes: prayers answered as Christmas babies arrive safely
LIKE all good Christmas stories, it all began at Midnight Mass.
Kerrie O'Brien and husband Will, both 31, followed their usual festive tradition when they went to midnight Mass in St James's Church in Ballinora, Co Cork, blissfully unaware of the drama that was about to unfold.
After her due date, last Tuesday, December 20, passed without any sign of their impending arrival, the O'Brien family packed up two-year-old Lucy and left their farm in Waterford to spend Christmas with Kerrie's parents Michael and Margie Crowley in Ballinora.
"We were humming or hawing if we would go or stay. At 5pm on Christmas Eve we came to Cork and went to midnight Mass and by the time it was over I was in labour," Kerrie said. "I didn't know whether to drive back to the hospital in Waterford or go to Cork. I turned up in Cork and they were very good when I came up unannounced. It would have taken two hours to drive to Waterford."
Little Harry O'Brien was born at 3.30am in Cork University Maternity Hospital on Christmas morning -- weighing 7lb 8oz.
"Harry O'Brien is a Cork baby now. His little sister was delighted, thinking Santa did bring the baby. We were only delighted when they both turned up," Kerrie said.
"I think Will didn't know whether to take me serious, whether it was pains from sitting or standing," she laughed.
At maternity hospitals throughout the country it was business as usual.
At the Coombe Women's Hospital, Grainne Walker (24) and her fiance Stephen Darcy (28), who live in Walkinstown, Dublin, were delighted when Grace Deirdre Darcy arrived at one midnight past midnight on Christmas morning.
The delighted new mother revealed they immediately knew what to name her.
"The song 'Grace' is an Irish ballad and Stephen's family have a history of a sing-song with that song. So we had a choice of either Grace or Megan -- she definitely looked like a Grace.
"She's good, feeding well and asleep at the moment."