EuroMillions winners make it two in a row... with a €16 win

Business as usual in Thurles hardware store after syndicate wins €17.4 million

Ireland’s newest EuroMillions winners made it two in a row on Wednesday night by winning €16 in the Lotto draw just 24 hours after scooping the €17.4 million euro-jackpot.

The members of the 32-strong syndicate from Stakelum's Home and Hardware store in Thurles revealed that they only started playing the EuroMillions draw a couple of years ago, after many years of labouring away with the Lotto.

"We combine the money with the Lotto, we do both, and we won €16 last night," financial controller Ger Sammon said on Thursday.

It was business as usual for the well-known hardware outlet on Thursday despite the windfall for almost half of the staff, although they’re not used to customers approaching them with a handshake and a hearty “congratulations”.

Most of the syndicate members celebrated quietly with family and friends on Wednesday night and the mood was somewhat muted because of the sad death after a short illness of the father of a senior staff member and syndicate participant.

“I went went to Dublin and lodged the ticket in safekeeping,” Ger Sammon said. “The night before I didn’t sleep, with the ticket beside me on the bedside locker.”

It is Mr Sammon who is in charge of collecting the money, buying the tickets and checking the numbers every time and after hearing on Tuesday night that the €17.4 million EuroMillions jackpot had been won in Ireland, he duly scanned the syndicate’s ticket at home.

“My next move was to call my wife, she was in the other room, ‘look, I think this is after happening’,” was what he said after realising the numbers matched.

“Couldn’t believe it. She thought I was joking, obviously, and we went through the numbers again.”

He contacted two people from the syndicate, whom he had always told he would contact if their numbers ever came up.

It was 7.30pm on Tuesday when store general manager Joe Connolly got the news.

“It’s a little bit surreal. But the over-arching sentiment for the past 24 hours has been bittersweet [because of the staff bereavement].”

The members were also conscious throughout Wednesday “of the 38 others who aren’t in the syndicate,” although they say they’ve received nothing but good wishes both in the shop and outside since the news spread of their good fortune.

Among those who aren't in the syndicate are the store owners, John and Pat Stakelum, who are part of a well-known business and sporting family.

A brother, Conor, is a former Tipperary hurler and currently a selector with the senior team while another brother, Richard, was the Tipperary captain who made the famous "famine is over" speech after the county beat Cork in Killarney in 1987.

Richard’s son, Conor, represents Ireland in figureskating, taking part in the European Championship earlier this year.

The syndicate plan to collect their money in Dublin sometime next week while plans for spending remain sketchy, although “the one word most of them are using is ‘bills’ and paying the essentials,” Joe Connolly said.

“Whenever you hear of a big amount being won, you always like to hear it’s a syndicate and that’s something we’ve discussed ourselves. There are 32 families positively impacted and that’s the beauty of it.”

Many are from the Thurles area but others are from nearby villages and towns, with celebrations reported as far away as McCarthy's Hotel in Fethard, the home town of one member.

In Eason’s in Thurles Shopping Centre they were celebrating a second big win in less than eight months, following a Lotto jackpot ticket sale last year.

“It’s a fantastic win and especially the way it was won, with 32 people sharing it,” owner Tom O’Toole said.

“Hopefully they’ll spend it around the town!”