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Dublin: 12°C Sunday 29 May 2022

The year the government gave a 'special welcome' of €100 to every baby born on 29 February

There’s a 1 in 1,461 chance of being born on a leap day.

Image: Shutterstock/Poznyakov

THE ODDS OF being born on a Leap Day are 1 in 1,461, so just how lucky were the babies born on 29 February 2004?

Those leapers were treated to a birthday present of €100 from the Government, in peak Celtic Tiger fashion, so pretty lucky.

Central Statistics Office figures estimate that an average of 45 babies are born on this date (every four years), making it the most uncommon birthday in Ireland. 

The reason they were gifted cash was that the Minister for Social and Family Affairs at the time, Mary Coughlan, wanted to mark the 10th anniversary of the United Nations’ International Year of the Family.

She said at the time she wanted to gift the babies who have to wait four years to mark their birthdays with a “special welcome”.

“This payment of €100 to these very special babies will commence the Government-funded celebrations of the Year of the Family.

“These are very special children who will only get to celebrate their real birth date once every four years, and I introduced this special payment as a special welcome to them in this special year, “ Coughlan told the Irish Times in 2004.

Of course, this was a time before the Celtic Tiger had reached its peak in Ireland. 

A time when people were still investing in the Special Savings Incentive Account, the five-year scheme set up by former finance minister Charlie McCreevy that saw the government contribute one euro for every four invested. 

Likewise, 2004 can be summed up by Brian Cowen’s maiden budget, which included a 9% increase in spending to the tune of €3.7 billion and an increase in the personal tax credit to take everyone on minimum wage out of the tax net entirely at the time. 

We all know what came next (austerity), so no need to take an unnecessary trip down memory lane. 

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Meanwhile, in the UK a great-grandmother is celebrating her 25th actual birthday today.

100-year-old Doris Cleife marked the day at her independent accommodation in Hampshire yesterday in the company of local dignitaries, friends and fellow residents.

Doris told the PA news agency: “I just take it as it comes, I can’t do much about it.

“I honestly don’t know, I think to myself, I never dreamed I would get this far, I lost my mother when she was quite young and my granny died when she was 47 but here we are, and I have a sister who is 98.”

When asked how it feels to only have had 25 birthdays, she said: “I don’t feel any different.

“I’ve waited all my life to be famous and now it happens like this.”

- Additional reporting from PA

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Adam Daly

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