Double joy as son returns for €5.1m Lotto party
FIGHTING back tears of joy, a family who helped each other through difficult financial times picked up their €5.1m Lotto winnings yesterday.
Lily Gallagher from the aptly named Moneymore in Drogheda, Co Louth, said she felt like a winner twice over because her son had flown home from Australia to be with her as she claimed the windfall.
Ms Gallagher had refused to pick up the bumper cheque until all the members of her tightly-knit family were together.
She scooped the jackpot two weeks ago with numbers she had played for years.
"Initially I wasn't sure if I had landed the jackpot. My sister and my daughter then came over and we all checked the ticket. A couple of hours later we heard that there was one winner in the north-east, so then we knew for sure," said the elated mother-of-two.
"My son Anthony left to find work in Australia in May but he came home to celebrate the win. He thought we were messing when we told him -- it's just absolutely brilliant to have him back at base," she said.
Lily's daughter Melissa said the family never had much money, but instead relied on each other.
"My brother Anthony is home for three weeks at the most and then he's going back to Australia. His visa is up in May so he'll be home for good then. We're very close because there's only the two of us. It's just so overwhelming, I still can't believe it.
"When I realised my mam had won the Lotto I rang him in Australia and I told him, 'it's an emergency, but a good emergency -- just come home'.
"My mam always told us that as long as you love each other, that's all you really need in life,'' she added tearfully.
"My father left us when we were four and he came back into our lives when I was 17. But we never knew our dad was gone because my mam always told us he worked abroad.
"However, he's now back in our lives. We're lucky to have each other, we're all great friends now," said Melissa.
"We don't go out at the weekend. My mam would socialise with her sisters and two friends. I don't go out either -- it's 'X Factor', a bottle of wine and a Chinese on a Saturday night for me.
"It's normally rich people that get money, not us.''
Anthony ventured Down Under in May in search of work.
"I'm a plumber by trade but I'm driving a forklift over there. I thought they were messing when they rang me. I want to go back over and finish my year. We're just looking forward to getting on with the rest of our lives," he said.
Asked what she plans to do with her winnings, Lily says she still needed time for the reality of her newfound fortune to sink in. "I always wanted to go on a cruise so I'll be able to do that now. I don't own a car, I don't even own a house, I've been renting my house for 22 years.
"My daughter might buy a car but she'll have to learn how to drive first. My daughter can be my chauffeur!" the lucky Lotto winner quipped.