Twins find fame on Ireland holiday

TWIN brothers from Littlehampton made the headlines in the Irish press a couple of weeks before the rather higher profile visit of the Queen this week.

Ten-year-olds Shea and Darragh McKeown were splashed across the republic’s national and regional newspapers after finding a stray chinchilla in the grounds of a ruined castle their father, Martin, had taken them to see on a visit to his home town of Dundalk.

The boys, pupils of Summerlea Primary School, Rustington, spotted the creature, a native of South America, at the entrance to Roche Castle.

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“At first I thought it was a chipmunk,” said Shea. “It was just running around.”

Martin picked up the chinchilla, but wasn’t sure what to do next. “I knew it was a chinchilla and didn’t know what to do with it, so I decided to take it to the Dundalk Garda (police) station.”

Garda officers were slightly sceptical about his story when he arrived at the station, without the chinchilla, which had escaped in the car park and was sitting under Martin’s car.

It was only when he managed to recapture the stray that they were more willing to listen to him.

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The animal was taken into custody and then handed over to an animal welfare charity for safe-keeping while inquiries continued into its ownership – it had not been reported missing.

The chinchilla incident was certainly the highlight of the family’s 10-day holiday in Ireland, and a big talking point when they returned to school.

“It was good fun being in all the papers,” admitted Darragh.

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