Lottery marks 30 years of making millionaires

The National Lottery celebrates its 30th birthday this week and in that time has created more than 800 millionaires and donated almost €5 billion to charitable causes.

The biggest ever win in Cork was the Cunningham family, who won the fourth highest Lotto jackpot prize of €16,185,749 on July 28, 2007, buying their ticket in Farranree.

The second largest win in Cork was for €9,652,339 on November 17, 2006, with the ticket being bought in Millstreet.

The ticket for the third biggest Cork win was sold in Douglas, with the lucky winners cashing in their slip for €9,461,894.

The top wins in Cork over the last 30 years have amounted to approximately €80m in total.

Nationally, Cork comes in as the third luckiest county in Ireland to do the Lotto, after Dublin and Donegal.

There are two shops in particular in Cork that are fortuitous places to do your Quick Pick. Hickey’s in Skibbereen has sold nine winning tickets over the past 30 years, which came to a total of €7,860,445 in winnings.

SuperValu on Pearse St, Kinsale, has had six winners in the same amount of time, selling tickets that reaped €8,574,413.

Meanwhile, the luckiest place to do the Lotto in Ireland is in An Post in the GPO on Dublin’s O’Connell St, where 14 tickets totalling €15,054,036 have been sold.

The next luckiest shop is O’Neill’s in Bridgend in Donegal, who have sold nine tickets that came to €4,993,195 in winnings.

Nationally, more than 800 millionaires have been created by the National Lottery since it began 30 years ago.

History was made in 1989 when Rita Power from Co Galway became Ireland’s first Lotto millionaire. Since then, in excess of 800 €1m plus prizes have been paid out by the National Lottery.

The Dan Morrissey Syndicate of 15 work colleagues from Co Carlow won the largest Lotto jackpot prize of €18.9m in 2008.

In the same amount of time, 11 Irish players have won the EuroMillions jackpot with Dolores McNamara smashing Irish lotto records in 2005 to win over €115m.

Winnings aside, the game has evolved alongside technological advancements with 380,000 people registered to play online.

The National Lottery app has also been downloaded more than 700,000 times, which makes it one of the most popular phone applications in the country.

Most recent statistics show that approximately 1.4m people play the Lotto on a regular basis. This is the equivalent of 42% of the adult population.

CEO of the National Lottery Dermot Griffin said handing over a cheque that is going to lift weights like mortgages off people’s backs, is one of the best parts of his job.

“One of the favourite parts of my job is getting to hand over a big cheque to a winner, a cheque that changes people’s lives and anyone that’s been through it,” Mr Griffin said.

“You can’t but help feel part of that win. There are a lot of people where one day they are struggling with their bills, have overdrafts or are behind on their mortgage, and suddenly that weight is lifted and they have financial security.”

However, it is not just individual players who get to travel the world and clear their mortgages that benefit from the Lotto.

Since 1987, more than €4.9bn has been raised for ‘good causes’ supporting projects in the areas as diverse as health, sport, and heritage.

This sum of money translates to the equivalent of 17 Croke Parks being built or the distribution of more than 16m self-propelled wheelchairs.

Mr Griffin said generating funds for deserving causes in society has been the guiding principle for all National Lottery’s activities over its lifetime.

“Approximately 30c of every euro generated by National Lottery sales going towards projects in the areas of sport and recreation, health and welfare, national heritage, the arts, and the Irish language,” said Mr Griffin.

“That amounts to around half a million euros every day. Last year alone, €210m was raised for good causes.”

In Cork, various projects have benefited from these funds.

Cara House, which is part of the Skibbereen Geriatric Society, received €120,000 in direct funding from the National Lottery to renovate the building.

“Over ten weeks in 2014 the builders came in and transformed the place,” said Aine Minihane, services manager at Cara House.

“Walls were knocked, old bedrooms removed, three large bathrooms installed, accessibility for all catered for, a conservatory built and designers made the building flow for the benefit of everyone who uses it.”

Up to 50 people from around the Skibbereen area now visit Cara House on Luncheon Days. The eldest user is 99 and the youngest 65.

Another recipient of funding is the 36-year-old Blackwater Sub Aqua Club, which has been involved in approximately 200 search and recovery operations across Ireland.

While the club works mostly in Cork and Munster, they recently helped out in the search for the Irish Coast Guard crew in Blacksod, Co Mayo.

Over the years the Blackwater Sub Aqua club has received a number of allocations from the National Lottery, the most recent of which, €25,076, came in 2014.

“Boats in particular are very expensive and we must have the most effective safety and protective equipment which allows our divers maintain communications with the support team above water throughout,” said club member Tim Carey.

On Wednesday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will attend the televised mid-week Lotto draw to celebrate the 30th birthday of the National Lottery, at 7.55pm on RTÉ One.

Record Breakers

In 1989, Rita Power from Co Galway became Ireland’s first Lotto millionaire. Since then, just over 800 €1m-plus prizes have been paid out by the National Lottery.

In 2005, Limerick woman Dolores McNamara smashed National Lottery records, winning over €115m in the EuroMillions jackpot.

In 2008, the Dan Morrissey Syndicate of 15 work colleagues from Co Carlow won the largest Lotto jackpot prize of €18.9m.

Ireland’s 11 EuroMillions Winners

  • July 2005: Dolores McNamara from Limerick, was Ireland’s first and biggest EuroMillions winner, scooping over €115m.
  • July 2008: A ticket bought in Carrick-on- Suir in Co Tipperary won a player €15m in the jackpot.
  • June 2009: An Irish family syndicate shared the jackpot with a British winner, taking home over €29.4m.
  • June 2013: A winning ticket sold in Beaumount, Dublin, shared a jackpot worth over €93m.
  • September 2013: A young man from the South East shared a jackpot of over €25m with a player in Spain, taking home over €12.8m.
  • April 2014: A jackpot prize worth €15m was claimed on a ticket sold in Castlebar, Co Mayo.
  • September 2014: An €86.7m jackpot was won by a private syndicate from Dublin. The ticket was sold in Centra, Ballybrack, south Dublin.
  • January 2016: A syndicate of friends won over €66m, splitting the jackpot of €132,376,632. The ticket was sold in Carlow.
  • July 2016: A syndicate of 22 colleagues from Dublin Bus won a jackpot of €23.8m. The ticket was sold in Portarlington.
  • January 2017: A Dublin work syndicate claimed the €88.5m EuroMillions jackpot. The winning ticket was sold at a service station on the M1.
  • July 2017: A syndicate from the west of Ireland won almost €29m. The winning ticket was sold in Co Mayo.

Fact file

  • More than 800 millionaires have been created by the National Lottery since 1987.
  • More than €4.9bn has been raised for good causes supporting projects in the areas of health, sport, arts, and heritage.
  • 11 Irish players have won the EuroMillions Jackpot.
  • In total, €1bn has been won by Irish EuroMillions players since 2004.
  • In 2016, 895 local sports projects were awarded over €45m.
  • The largest Lotto jackpot of €18.9m was won by a syndicate of work colleagues in 2008.
  • The National Lottery app is one of Ireland’s most downloaded applications, with 700,000 downloads to date.
  • There are 380,000 people registered to play Lotto online.
  • The luckiest place to do the Lotto in Ireland is in An Post at the GPO on Dublin’s O’Connell Street.
  • Hickey’s in Skibbereen is the luckiest place in Cork to do the Lotto, having sold nine winning tickets to date.
  • The most common numbers to be drawn in the Lotto, in order of frequency, are: 2, 38, 12, 10, 6, and 27.


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