Twelfth child for Saintfield couple

Twelfth child for Saintfield couple

8 January 2020

MEET the Donoghues — now officially the largest family in Northern Ireland.

The Saintfield family entered the record books when baby daughter Molly — their 12th child — arrived on New Year’s Day.

Molly, who weighed 8lb 6oz, was born at the Ulster Hospital shortly after 12 noon last Wednesday. 

Dad John (43) and mum Tessa (35), were thrilled to introduce little Molly to her 11 siblings – six brothers and five sisters — who waited excitedly to welcome her home. 

Saying good night in the Donoghue household sounds more like a classroom roll call. Eldest daughter Tessa is 15 and a great help to her mum. Then there is Bobby (14), John (9), Savannah (8), Joseph (7), Sinead (6), Shannon (5), Ronnie (4), Reggie, (3), Tommy (2), Clarice (1) and now little Molly.

Tessa says she can’t wait to hear the cry of each newborn baby and hold it in her arms. 

Tessa, who, surprisingly, is an only child, said: “Molly is already a great wee sleeper and her six brothers 

and five sisters are really excited to have someone else to play with.

“Everyone who meets the children always comments on how well behaved they all are. They go to St Colmcille’s Primary School in Downpatrick where we all lived until recently when we needed to find a bigger house.

“Molly was born by normal delivery. In fact, all of my children were born naturally except for John. He was over 10lbs when he was born and was delivered by caesarean section. It is a great blessing to have every one of them born healthy and well.”

Tessa laughs at the idea of having as much experience in childbirth as some midwives. She said: “The midwives don’t give me advice and tips any more. They are quite content that I know what I’m doing at this stage. None of my babies wake in the middle of the night for a feed. They are usually very good.”  

Tessa says she could not cope without the help of John, who she describes as a “great father” and “very supportive”.

John and Tessa have known each other for almost all of their adult lives.

Tessa said: “We went together for a short time when we were very young, but then went our separate ways. Then one day a few years later I came upon a number written down with no name above it. I was very curious as to who the number belonged to and so I rang it.”

Unbeknown to Tessa, who lived in Kent at the time, John had decided to buy a new SIM card for his mobile phone. Just as he plugged it in and set it down to charge, Tessa rang — and the rest is history.

The Donoghues go through 50 nappies a week, have a weekly shopping bill of over £400 and are undeterred by an uncertain economy. John says “his children are his wealth” and it appears the Donoghues are not on their own. 

“It’s been said that money can’t buy love,” says John, who gave up his job to become a hands-on dad. “While our 12 children have soaked up any extra income for fancy cars or Mediterranean holidays, we wouldn’t have it any other way. 

“Disposable income or not, life with a big family is a blast and with so much love to contend with, I consider myself a rich man.”

Waving the Recorder team off after their family photo shoot, Tessa joked: “We’ll see you back here again next year with child number 13.”