€17m lottery jackpot winners planning to ‘shop locally’

Members of syndicate from Stakelum’s Hardware in Thurles each receive €531,250

Thurles is getting a reputation as a lucky town and Eason in Thurles, a reputation as Ireland’s luckiest shop. The odds on selling a multimillion euro lottery ticket once are slim, the odds on doing it twice in eight months are astronomical.

However, shop owner Tom O’Toole followed up selling a ticket that won a €7.5million jackpot last year by selling a €17million EuroMillions winner last week.

"We must be the luckiest shop in Europe, " said Mr O'Toole.

The ticket was bought by a syndicate of 32 people who work in Stakelum’s Hardware Store in the Co Tipperary town.

The celebrations were, however, deferred due to the death of a syndicate member’s father just before the winning draw.

On Friday the group arrived at National Lottery headquarters by bus to collect their prize, which works out at €531,250 per person.

The syndicate led by Gerard Sammon, who has been organising the lottery ticket for 20 of the 22 years he has worked at Stakelum's, was cheered off the bus by lottery staff.

The group had never won anything of serious value before, but there are now two couples who are officially millionaires, with the four of them working in the store.

Hardly believe

Mr Sammon, like most big lottery winners, could hardly believe his luck after seeing the result of the draw and kept the winning ticket by his bed all night.

“It’s surreal because you don’t know what to feel. I didn’t get much sleep,” he said.

He drove straight to Dublin the morning after the draw and deposited the ticket before spreading the good news to the syndicate.

Mr Sammon said he had been saving up to go on a cruise out of Florida featuring musicians Buddy Miller, Emmylou Harris and Josh Ritter. He won't need to save anymore.

Another member, David Foy (29), said he now finds himself with more money that he ever dreamed of. "It's becoming real," he said, standing with a glass of champagne in his hand.

Will he buy a new car?

“I might buy some tyres for the van,” he said.

Mr Foy said he intends to keep on working rather than resting on his winnings.

“I’m set for life, but we’ll keep the feet on the ground for a little while.”

Marie Loughnane, who has worked in Stakelum's for 29 years, also has no intention of packing the job in. "I have five children from 20 up to 32. They will help me spend it."

There are 75 employees in Stakelum’s and judging by the lengths of service among the syndicate members, and their willingness to continue working after this win, it appears to be a popular employer.

"I'm with them 23 years," said Joe Connolly (40). "They are a lovely family and a good company to work for. There's a great culture and spirit there. Everyone gets on.

“The win is great for the town of Thurles because the money will filter down. We will shop locally.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times