While gambling has been popular in England and Scotland for several decades, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that Ireland decided to jump on the bandwagon. Since the concept is still fairly new to Ireland, until recently, land casinos were almost unheard of there. Today, there is estimated to be a total of around 21 Casinos in the whole of Ireland, all still governed by the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1956. Ac-cording to the outdated laws included under this act, technically casino gambling is still illegal in Ireland. While most of the top casinos get around this by operating as private, members-only clubs, this law en-courages many of Irelands individuals to opt for other methods of gambling such as the lottery, instead. In this article, we explore the biggest jackpot in Ireland’s history, won in 2005 by the now commonly known, Dolores McNamara. Exploring the story behind her luck-based success, we look into McNamara in more detail, focussing partially on what she’s been getting up to since her colossal €115 million win.
Back in 2005, Dolores McNamara was at the pub with some friends when she discovered she had won the Euro millions jackpot. The gigantic €115 million win saw her reach 650th place on the list of Ireland of Brit-ain’s richest individuals, putting her above the likes of stars such as David Beckham and his wife, Victoria. A mother of 6, Dolores McNamara made sure that all her children were financially sorted after her win, buying each of them their own home, in addition to purchasing Lough Derg Hall in Co. Clare, for herself.
While the Limerick Native had discovered her win on Friday 30th of July, it wasn’t until 5 days later, on the 4th of August that she arrived in Dublin to collect her cheque. The largest Lotto jackpot in European histo-ry, the win unsurprisingly grabbed the attention of the media, encouraging various journalists to camp outside the National Lottery Headquarters awaiting her arrival. With Ms McNamara not arriving at the Headquarters until 5 days later, some journalists remained put for as long as 4 days, hoping to get a long-awaited inside scoop from the lucky winner. Sensibly, when Dolores did reach the HQ, she arrived with a solicitor in tow, who advised her not to speak to the media; instead, her solicitor released a statement on her behalf, explaining that she intended on staying out of the limelight, hoping to return to normal life as soon as possible. While Dolores was over the moon about her new found luck, she confessed to her solic-itor that she was determined to keep her feet, and the feet of her family, firmly on the ground.
While Ms McNamara is kept a low profile since her win, the story of how she found out was widely talked about for years to come. According to other Limerick locals, Dolores was sitting in her local pub, the Track Bar, watching the lottery on the television. After a couple of the numbers appeared that she thought she had chosen, she pulled her ticket out of her bag with the excitement of maybe winning a couple of hun-dred pounds. When she checked the ticket, though, she realised that it was potentially an awful lot more. Before getting excited, she calmly asked one of her friends to check her ticket, while she finished sipping on her drink. Once her drink was finished, it was like a switch had turned. She broke down into tears, suddenly hit with the realisation that her family’s life was about to change for the better. A barmaid from the local pub described the events that followed the win: ‘Then the drink started flowing and the cham-pagne was poured and we had a great night celebrating. Dolores is a really nice woman and none of her friends believes this will change her drastically.’
Since her record-breaking win, Dolores has managed to keep a fairly low profile. Rarely photographed by the media or even seen out in public, despite the occasional family wedding or extravagant holiday, Ms McNamara is determined to keep herself and her family out of the spotlight. Though Dolores agreed to participate in an interview with her local paper after the win, apart from this single occasion the winner has ever spoken publicly. Although she hasn’t spoken about any of her purchases herself, it has been confirmed that she spent €2 million on an enormous house for herself and her partner, formally named Lough Derg Hall. Additionally, the winner was thought to have purchased houses in the surrounding areas for each of her 6 children. With the amount of money that Dolores now has in the bank, it is estimated that she would earn up to €3 million a year in interest alone.
Though Dolores McNamara holds the crown for the biggest Jackpot winner, Irish lottery tickets have proved lucky for a few others, too. In 2013, the second biggest Euromillions win occurred, with the anon-ymous winner collecting a cheque for €94 million. While the winner chose to remain anonymous, a state-ment was realised explaining the sheer joy that they felt. “I’m absolutely thrilled. Dreams do come true,” the winner gushed. “The news is still sinking in so for the moment I’d like to keep the win private. I’m ab-solutely thrilled. I’m looking forward to thinking about all the opportunities that are now open to me. It’s a really exciting time.”
Since 2013, various other wins have been collected from the National Lottery Headquarters in Dublin, and while none of them as colossal as the cheque received by Dolores McNamara, people all over the country live in hope that they will win one of the incredible jackpots in Ireland, too.