FOR a number of lucky people in Cork, their budget for Christmas has grown considerably since last year, thanks to big wins in the Lotto and EuroMillions.
Five punters or syndicates claimed €500,000 in prize money, while another handful won several hundred thousand euros each.
In Gurranabraher, in January, a ticket bought at the Centra on Baker’s Road won half-a-million euro in the Lotto Plus 1 draw.
The ticket-holder remained anonymous, but shop regulars were delighted by rumours that it was won by a local.
A couple of weeks later, €250,018 was won in Charleville and, in March, the Centra Quick Stop, on the Grand Parade, sold a ticket worth €236,254. The winner was a Cork man, who also preferred not to be named, but who headed up to Dublin four days later to collect his prize.
The next big win was in Mallow when 20 colleagues from the Barry Group wholesaler picked up a cheque for €369,210 in July.
“The blood just drained from my face, when I saw the €369,000,” said Suzanna McAuliffe, whose responsibility it is to buy a Quick Pick ticket every Friday.
“But I was delighted. We’re a group, there are 20 of us, so we’ve all benefitted, everybody’s got a bit out of it.”
A man described as a sports-loving bachelor won €257,097 in August but was determined it wouldn’t change his life.
He even got the train straight back to Cork, after collecting his cheque, so he would be in time for his factory shift.
“I have my feet firmly on the ground, even if the win hasn’t quite sunk in yet. I always have, so there’s no chance the money will change me,” he said.
He planned to spend his winnings on a house and a new set of golf clubs.
August was a good month in Cork, with €500,000 also won in Ballinlough, and €219,204 picked up in Kinsale.
The family who won the half-million prize were lucky to even be in the draw.
“We very rarely buy EuroMillions tickets, which makes the win more incredible,” said the winning husband, who purchased the ticket. “I was standing in the queue of the shop and the fella in front of me asked for a Quick-Pick EuroMillions ticket. It was a case of monkey see, monkey do, because I had no intention of buying a ticket, until that!”
Brendan O’Driscoll, who sold the ticket in JJ O’Driscoll’s Superstore, said there was “a bit of luck in the air” and it continued throughout Cork for the next couple of months.
Three more €500,000 prizes were won in the city and county, between September and October.
The tickets were sold in Easons in Mahon Point, the post office on Bere Island, and O’Reilly’s Maxol on Watercourse Road.
The Blackpool winner said his wife feared the worst when he sat her down.
“I came in from work, after calling up the National Lottery, where they broke the news to me that I had won €500,000. I told the kids to go out and play and asked my wife to sit down.
“Immediately, she thought that I had lost my job, so I had to reel her in for a minute and then just told her we’d won half-a-million.”
The lucky family are headed to Disneyland Paris in 2018, with the rest being used to clear the mortgage and put money aside for their children’s education.
The Bere Island prize was won by an anonymous syndicate, who said it had been a “crazy week” after the news broke.
“We could never have expected the huge reaction that our beautiful little island has received, all across the world, just because of our EuroMillions win. We are extremely grateful for all of the support we have received and we are planning a big celebration for the entire island, once the dust settles,” they said.
Congratulations to all the winners around Cork. Here’s to plenty more in 2018.