Aug 2, 2005, 9:15 am
The Irish woman who won the biggest jackpot in European lottery history is believed to have flown to Dublin to collect her winnings, it emerged Monday.
A relation of Dolores McNamara, 50, from St Patrick's Road, in Limerick city, said she flew straight to the capital with her best friend the day after learning of her €115.6 million (US$136 million) win.
"Apparently she flew to Dublin from Shannon on Saturday morning and booked into a hotel there," her relative, who did not want to be named, said.
However, National Lottery bosses have said they cannot confirm if Ms. McNamara has the winning ticket until the person reports to the headquarters on Lower Abbey Street in Dublin.
Paula McEvoy, the spokeswoman for the Irish National Lottery, said Ms. McNamara would not be able to deliver the ticket to the Dublin headquarters until Tuesday morning at the earliest.
"We can confirm the winning ticket was sold in Garryowen Stores in Limerick but we don't have a winner yet until someone comes forward," she said.
"We are hoping the winner will contact us when the office opens Tuesday morning at 9:15 am."
Ms. McEvoy said that as the enormous sum would be transferred from the eight EU countries involved it would take until Wednesday or Thursday to gather the amount.
"It will be Wednesday at the earliest before it can be collected or Thursday."
She added, "But the person has 90 days to come forward and collect it. Everyone is different, some would be dying to come in and others would come in only 90 minutes before it is due to elapse. It is up to the winner if they want to go public. They are entitled not to and we will respect their wishes, whatever they are."
After eating a humble breakfast in a local pub on Saturday morning, a relative said Ms. McNamara met with a solicitor in a Limerick hotel to seek legal advice after her name was released into the public domain.
"She sought legal advice on Saturday morning, not to have her pictures publicized and pictures of her children shown," he said.
Dozens of people immediately learned of her enormous win on Friday night after she got her friend to check her EuroMillions lottery ticket in The Track bar in Garryowen.
News of the win quickly spread throughout the tight-knit Limerick community and some of Ms. McNamara's six children rushed to the bar to celebrate.
And a friend of the family, who took pictures in the pub on Friday night, is believed to have sold the pictures to several newspapers for more than €16,000.
One of Ms. McNamara's six children immediately urged her to put the ticket into safe hands. The family brought the ticket to Henry Street Garda Station, where staff are believed to have contacted the Trustee Savings Bank to place it in the vaults.
"She met with the bank manager on Friday night, she is getting legal advice, left, right and center," the relative added. "She is now richer than Rod Stewart."
Ms. McNamara and her husband Adrian, a bricklayer, have three daughters – Dawn, 28, Kim, 22, and Kevanne, 20 – and three sons – Gary, 26, Dean, 15 and Lee, 13.
Father Terry O'Connell, who administers mass only yards away from the McNamara's €150,000 white terraced house, said the parish of St Brigid and St Patrick was now the richest parish in Ireland.
"For the area, it is now the richest parish in Ireland at the moment," Fr O'Connell said. "One of our own won it, we congratulate her on that. Someone had to win it, and with all the negative publicity for Limerick it is good to hear a positive aspect for Limerick."
Fr O'Connell said he hoped the family use the money wisely and get proper advice.
"She will probably have friends she never knew she had coming out of trees, people will be coming up to her claiming they are cousins of cousins," he said. "It can also be a time of tremendous turmoil for her, the Dolores McNamara that was is not any more. She can never be the same. Her life has dramatically changed. What change she is going to put on that is up to herself.
"It could be seen as a blessing and it could be seen as worse," he said.
Fr O'Connell said it was going to be difficult for her to re-settle in the house she abandoned on Saturday.
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