A lot of Lotto can make little difference


BOLLINGER champagne, bacon and sausage brunch with strawberries afterwards were the order of the day as the National Lottery yesterday celebrated its 10th birthday with a bash at the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham, Dublin.

Among those attending were some of Ireland's Lotto millionaires who chatted about how it had or had not changed their lives.

A decade on, there are now 69 Lotto millionaires in Ireland. The acquisition of numerous zeroes to the end of their bank statements does not seem to have made much difference to some of them.

Take Patricia and Tom Roche for example. The couple from Ballinasloe won £3.6 million in September 1995. They have given a sizeable amount to charity. They've taken a few weekend breaks away. But even though they planned to go to the US, two years later, they've still not been. They have some land and bought some for their son. Patricia's only wish now is to get their only son still at home, Michael, married and off their hands.

Caroline Sharkey (19), a student at Carlow RTC, won £1,107,511 last November. She bought a new car for her mother and now uses her mother's old car herself. Other than that? "I'm having a very good time in college because I have some money." The rest is in the bank.

Mary and Paddy Kelly from Bailieboro, Co Cavan, won £3.7 million, half of the biggest ever Lotto jackpot last September. "We went to Florida, six of us altogether. I bought myself a car and we have a pub which we leased out." They've had some begging letters, which still continue, but they get a friend to appraise them. Very little seems to have changed for any of the lottery winners.

The director of the Lottery, Mr Ray Bates, was defensive about the "debacle" of the millennium clock.

He chatted with reporters whom he left were unreasonably keen to talk about the disaster of the clock. "Old news," he said. Yes, it was a debacle, he conceded. "But it was the only thing in 10 years that didn't work. And if you don't try, you'll never succeed," he said.

It cost £250,000 to construct. Taking it in and out of the water for repairs and boat races cost another £58,000. But £17,000 had been generated in sales of the postcards.

For the record, after a decade of gambling the nation has spent about £2.1 billion on the Lotto. Of that £1 billion has been paid out in prizes including £700 million to beneficiaries.