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Bridgend dancer is a real leapling! 26.02.08

by Donal Campbell, Inishowen Independent

MARIA McCallion will be celebrating her birthday next Friday but despite the fact that the Bridgend woman is 24 years old there will only be six candles on her cake. Why? Maria was born in a leap year - February 29, 1984 to be precise - and is therefore technically only celebrating her sixth birthday!
Maria, who works in the finance sector in Leeds, is a ‘leapling’ - as those who are born on February 29 are known - and only gets to celebrate her real birthday every four years. She hasn’t missed out on annual festivities though, confirming to the Inishowen Independent that when she was a youngster she celebrated her birthday on March 1 but since then generally has held it on February 28, staying in the same month.
Maria McCallion “That said,” she laughs, “these days I generally pick the date that suits me best, usually the one closest to the weekend!”
However it is only in the leap year when February 29 actually exists, that Maria feels she has really celebrated her birthday: “Well, that is the day. On the other years, on a February 28 or March 1, it’s not really my birthday and it doesn’t feel like my birthday at all. I might feel some brief connection at midnight on the 28th but that’s about it. It only feels truly real on February 29.”
According to her mother Frances, Maria
was born on 8.25pm on Wednesday, February 29, 1984. Frances recalls with a smile that an aunt living in Dublin, well aware of the date, made the remark: “Could you not have held on for a wee while!” “That was easier said than done!” laughs Frances.
Maria says she has experienced no problems with online forms which might not give the option of filling out February 29 – some airlines apparently don’t do February 29. “I’ve never come across that to be honest and I have travelled quite a bit in the last few years.”
Maria has been based in Leeds for four years now and has travelled the world as a dancer with the acclaimed Gaelforce show, which rivals Riverdance and Lord of the Dance on stages around the world.
“I’ve been all over Europe with Gaelforce,” says Maria, “We also toured in Taiwan and Canada. I may go back and join the troupe this year but haven’t made a final decision just yet.”
Either way she will be enjoying her real sixth birthday on Friday next in Leeds. “I’ve a few friends coming over and I’ve booked the day off work. My birthday only comes around every four years so I have to make the best of it!”
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