Former conjoined twins Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf will make a triumphant return to Ireland’s only festival for twins, Twinfest, which takes place this Saturday, August 18 in Keash, Ballymote, Co. Sligo.
The twins were just 20 months old when they appeared at the festival in 2011. Born in Cork in December 2009 they were separated in a 16-hour long operation which took place in London’s St Ormond Street Children’s Hospital four months after they were born.
The Benhaffaf family, parents Angie and Azzedine, sisters Malika and Iman, and the twin boys, were given a civic reception when they visited Sligo in August of last year ahead of the Twinfest.
The boys thrilled Twinfest attendees with the speed of their crawling last year, but this year they will be walking at the festival in Keash, thanks to prosthetic legs which were fitted in October of last year.
The specially-designed legs have already given the now two-and-ahalf year olds much greater mobility and freedom and they continue to go from strength to strength.
This year’s Twinfest gets underway at 2pm in Keash on Saturday and this year, around 200 pairs of twins are expected to attend.
After an opening ceremony involving a display from Eagles Flying, there will be a series of twin events, from group photos to three-legged races.
There are also awards for the youngest and oldest twins, for the twins who travelled the furthest and at the conclusion of the day, a crowning of the Kings, Queens, Princes and Princesses of the show.
Traditionally the festival has raised money for the Meningitis Trust (the festival itself was set up in memory of baby Katie Garvey who died of meningitis in 2007) but this year the organisers will be donating funds to Act for Meningitis.
A charity launched by the Carroll family of Oranmore, Co Galway, in memory of their daughter Aoibh who succumbed to the deadly disease in 2008.