Two (Or Three) Of A Kind: Irish Twins And Triplets On Their Special Connection

"It’s great to have a partner in crime who you love and loves you back unconditionally."

Triplet Gillian Holland, 27, is close as can be to her brothers Jonathan and Cormac

“My parents thought they were having twins. I was born first, and eight minutes later Jonathan came along. A baby girl and a baby boy, everyone was delighted. The doctor was examining my mom and told her he could feel another limb – it was Cormac! He was hidden behind Jonathan and I. It was definitely a big shock for our family, especially our sister Aisling who had been an only child for nearly five years. We were on the front page of the Irish Examiner after we were born.

We grew up in Cork City and all got along really well, apart from the usual sibling arguments. I’m sure there were times that they didn’t want me tagging along, and they certainly didn’t want me playing the Playstation with them (because I would slow them down!) but I never took too much notice. I was always allowed to go to discos if my brothers were going and could stay out later if we were together, so that was great.

We talk every day on our family WhatsApp group. I bought a house with my fiancé last year and the boys are just going through the process of buying their first homes, so it’s been brilliant being able to do this together, bouncing ideas and sharing information. It’s weird being the first of the triplets to leave home, sometimes I get FOMO if there’s banter at the dinner table and I’m missing it. All four of us are within a ten minute drive from our parents so we’re still really close.

My parents always made sure we had everything we needed and wanted. There were very difficult times for them – exams in school and college, us all learning how to drive at the same time (my poor mom was a nervous wreck!), Leaving Cert holidays, and now we’re all buying houses and moving out at the same time. My mom says that we’re leaving the house the way we came in – all at once!”

Twins Miriam and Aoife Burke, 34, started their own fashion blog to keep in touch while living apart

“We’re the closest thing to identical you can be without being identical. While some friends say we’re nothing alike, others will say we’re getting more identical as we get older. Aoife has been known to ‘like’ pictures of me, Miriam, without realising the photo is actually of her. When Aoife came to visit me at UL for the first time, my new college friends thought she was me – but ‘did she do something to her hair?’

We used to use our twin-ness to our advantage when it suited us, like confusing teachers for sport, but mostly we tried to express our individuality and assert that we weren’t just ‘the twins’. Doing that is hard though when you like the same things, enjoy the same hobbies, and have the same friends! One easy way to define ourselves was with hair colour; I was Sun-In blonde all the way through secondary school.

We had no problem separating. We went to different universities in different cities and became ‘individuals’ for the first time. We stayed in touch via text, Bebo (LOL), and visiting, but let each other flourish. The best thing about our relationship is that we’re the best of friends as well as twin sisters. at hasn’t changed at all over the years, even with separation, careers and marriage all entering the mix; we’re still as close as can be. After college, we both went to South Korea to teach and travel. We haven’t lived in the same place since [I’m based in Dublin while Aoife lives in Galway], but we are constantly in touch. Luckily we have very understanding other halves.

The best thing about being a twin, in our opinion? Having double the wardrobe! We’ve always had a huge interest in fashion and style. As kids, we had a massive dressing up box and took full advantage of it. We started our blog, Town Mouse Country Mouse, because we thought it would be nice to do something together from this fairly unique perspective.”

After a rocky relationship in their teenage years, twins Jessica and Rachel Hill, 31, are now the best of friends

Jessica: “On the day we were born, our parents went into the hospital to have one baby and came home with two! I came out first and our dad got up to say hello, but was immediately told to ‘sit back down, there’s another one on the way’. Rachel arrived ten minutes later and added to the drama by arriving in a breech position. Of course, as our dad is the biggest messer going, nobody would believe they’d had two babies until they’d seen us for themselves. Our Nanny even hung up the phone on him a few times when he rang with the surprising news!”

Rachel: “As babies, our parents liked to dress us in matching outfits. God knows how they told us apart as myself and Jess find it hard to tell who’s who from photos! As we got into our teenage years, we didn’t want to be known as ‘the twins’. I embarrassingly liked to dress in baggy cords and t-shirts and my dad’s shirts, whereas Jess loved a Gap or Susst jumper and skinny jeans.”

Jessica: “We both had different social circles (Rachel went through a bit of a goth/ skater phase which we still like to tease her about to this day) so we didn’t hang around together all that much. We ended up fighting a lot and even walked to school separately some days, sometimes only 20 paces apart.”

Rachel: “We have a great relationship now as adults. We’re amazing friends and spend a lot of time together. I don’t ever feel like we have to make an effort to see one another, it just happens naturally. It’s great to have such a close connection, we’d be lost without each other!”

Jessica: “We both joined Slimming World as we wanted to lose weight before Rachel’s wedding last June. I set up our Instagram account @sw_twins as a way of sharing our meals – now we have over 10,000 followers. We’re big foodies and love heading out to new brunch spots around Dublin, so you’ll see a bit of that on the page, along with some twin spam!”

Rachel: “The best thing about being a twin is having someone who’ll always have your back. We’re very protective of one another and our friends constantly joke about it. We do so much together and it’s great to have a partner in crime who you love and loves you back unconditionally.”

Elizabeth Nicholas is mam to seven-month-old triplets Pádraig, Seán and Fionn

“To say we were surprised to be having triplets is an understatement! We were initially told twins but at the following scan, they found another heartbeat. I don’t think my husband could speak for a few hours, but once we were over the initial shock of it we were over the moon! A triplet pregnancy is high risk so there is fear that something might go wrong during the pregnancy, worry that financially it will be very tight, pure and utter delight that you will have your family done and dusted in one go (for us anyway), shock that this has happened, and the nervousness of the attention it can bring. Once they were all healthy and growing we just counted our blessings and looked forward to becoming a family of five.

On a typical day I’m awake by 6.30 or 7am. I usually have one on the playmat, another doing tummy time and another one in a Jumperoo or bassinet while I get the bottles, bibs and myself ready, and then they are fed in rotation, burped and put down for a nap. While they nap after their first bottle, it’s my chance to have my breakfast, get the washes on, sterilise the bottles and generally try to put some order into the house! In between feeds I’m also trying to feed myself, but I can’t tell you how many cups of tea or coffee that have gone cold from having to prise myself away from what I’m trying to eat to pick up one of them. From 8.30pm I have time to myself to eat, relax and chat to my husband before I go to bed… It’s hectic but I love it, and the day flies!

Honestly, being a mother of triplets has had an impact on my freedom and space. I’m definitely not complaining, but simple things I never even thought twice about before now require planning – for example food shopping, going for a walk, getting a haircut… I never even batted an eyelid to cars parking on footpaths until I took the triplet buggy out one day and had to either turn around or plan a different route. The buggy doesn’t fit through the gate of our local park, so I have to assemble the buggy inside the gate while the boys are in the car… Little things which turn into big jobs! We’ve had to get a new car and also need to move, as our current house is very small and the open plan kitchen/sitting room has turned into an obstacle course.

It can be stressful at times and guilt can creep in when you can’t give them all your undivided attention, but the good times far outweigh the hairy moments which are only fleeting! My favourite part of the day is first thing in the morning, going over to the cot and having three beautiful boys beaming up at me, kicking their legs in excitement, just delighted to see me.

I love the way they recognise each other now, hold hands and gaze at each other and of course have the ‘chats’ with mammy and daddy. I take great comfort in knowing they will grow up being best friends, will never be lonely and will always look out for each other. It’s so rewarding seeing them grow into their own personalities, and although they were born into this world together they are already so different, each with their own unique personality!”