Irish village reacts to €175m EuroMillions win: ‘I was physically sick’

If people in the Naul knew the identities of the winning syndicate, they were not saying

Standing beside a coffee machine in his newsagent in north county Dublin a frazzled looking Les Reilly described how he had been ill when the National Lottery rang to tell him he sold the €175 million jackpot.

“I was physically sick, no word of a lie,” he said, with the nonchalance of a man who had been telling the same story all day.

Since word of the record win spread on Wednesday morning, his normally quiet shop in the Naul village exploded with activity. As always with big jackpots, the question was: Who won? As always, the guarded response was: We don't know.

“It was a syndicate; it’s a family, that’s all we know,” Les told yet another customer who bounded in the door with hope of an answer.

“It’s scary isn’t it, the buzz? Imagine actually winning,” he told his colleague as the shop continued to attract excited regulars, many of whom kept coming back to soak up the atmosphere.

Rumours quickly circulated. Most pointed to a family of about seven siblings – possibly four sisters and three brothers – originally from the Naul and scattered across Duleek, Bellewstown and Ashbourne, all in Co Meath. If the number is correct, each sibling will receive €25 million.

A source in Duleek who claimed to know the family said they were hoping to stay out of the limelight while they let the multimillion euro reality sink in.

National Lottery representatives adorned the shop with orange and green balloons and a large sign announcing the winning ticket sale against the backdrop of a yacht floating in turquoise blue water. A sign of things to come perhaps, but for whom?

There was a sense that some in this tight-knit community knew more than they were letting on – a coy smile here, an uncomfortable silence there.

Rural village

It is a very small, very rural village. Known as the bread basket of the region, noted one business owner, it is a combination of tillage farmers and commuters with a population of about 1,100.

Across the road from the shop, at the Snip and Set hair salon, proprietor Pauline Macken gazed out the window. Les had come running over earlier that morning "exceptionally excited" with the news, she said, and then all hell broke loose.

“It was absolutely mental all morning; you couldn’t park on the street,” she said.

Groups of children and friends gathered on the footpath, compelled by the TV cameras. "There is not a cup washed in the kitchen. You can't settle for anything," said Diane Rogers.

Her friend, Marcella Lindsay, a local beautician, said it was a welcome reprieve from unspecified bad news in recent times. Everyone seemed to know what she was talking about. "We are a small village so we are close," she explained.

That sense of community endured on the street outside the shop. If people knew the winners, they weren’t saying.

Inside, Les Reilly put it this way: “Small village, big dreams,” a slogan aptly borrowed from the local GAA club.