independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Dolores -- looking like a million dollars

She has barely been seen or heard since she claimed her Euromillions jackpot seven years ago but when Dolores McNamara finally resurfaced, she turned heads. Looking like a million dollars is a little easier when there's €115m in the bank, some would argue. But mum-of-six Dolores has always been a glamour puss -- even as a struggling Limerick housewife.

There's been only a handful of sightings of her since she picked up her record-breaking cheque from Lotto HQ in July 2005. We had almost forgotten about her when, 10 days ago, Dolores wowed onlookers by posing in Dublin's Red Cow Hotel in a sparkling navy velvet dress, showing just the right amount of cleavage. Her perfect smile, soft blonde curls and radiant skin are all evidence that the millionaire lifestyle suits Dolores.

It was a rare public appearance for Dolores, who normally shies away from the limelight. The 52-year-old was attending a charity concert for Pieta House, a suicide and self-harm crisis centre. She went with a group of her pals and they all paid €20 for the four-hour cabaret.

Dolores posed for a photograph with her idol, Mary Byrne, who she had followed on The X Factor, and businessman Tom Moran. She was thrilled when the hotelier introduced her to Mary Byrne in the green room.

Moran and Dolores struck up a friendship after the Limerick man, who owns The Red Cow, sheltered her from the media circus that greeted her win.

The down-to- earth grandmother has shown no signs of losing the run of herself since her massive windfall. She's bought gifts for family members, including new cars and properties, but there haven't been any wild decisions taken to date.

Unlike many millionaire women who are dripping with gold jewellery, expensive watches and diamonds, Dolores has gone for understated glamour. Fashion stylist and personal shopper Cathy O'Connor believes the Limerick woman has toned down her look in recent years.

When she collected her €115,436,126 jackpot winnings in Dublin, Dolores wore a bright cream suit teamed with a silver heart pendant. Her blonde hair was straightened and her nails were immaculately manicured.

It was clear that Dolores liked her style back then, however, seven years later, and with millionaire status behind her, the subtle changes have made an enormous difference to her looks.

"Obviously I think she looks fantastic. Her life now agrees with her, you can see that in every fibre of her being," says O'Connor.

"She softened her look. Her hair colour isn't a strong blonde any more, it's softer. Her teeth look amazing. She really does look a million dollars. Her choice of outfit (at the Pieta House concert) is really classy. It's sexy and glamorous at the same time. I think she just looks fantastic.

"I presume she's spending more money on her clothes now. The more money you're spending, hopefully the better attention you get from a customer service point of view. You're going to get a one-to-one service.

She's always been glamorous but her skin looks really amazing. Be it the money, the good fortune or whatever, it is really working for her."

Most noticeably, Dolores has had cosmetic dental work and is now the proud owner of a straight set of pearly whites. In older photographs, the housewife had a noticeable gap where a tooth was missing. Her new teeth have given the millionaire a huge confidence boost, which is clear from her dazzling smile.

Dolores opted for a classic style of dress for her night out in Dublin recently when 18 artists gave their time for free to perform for charity.

While listening to music from TR Dallas, Muriel Day, Red Hurley and Mary Byrne, among others, Dolores upped the style stakes in her velvet number.

"It fits her like a dream. The jewellery is really exquisite, it's a sophisticated piece," said O'Connor, while complimenting the necklace worn by the lottery winner for the occasion.

When asked if she thinks Dolores has a personal shopper, Cathy replied: "I think she's got a handle on her own style already. She's a really attractive woman. She has a great shape, she'd be a dream to dress."

Her good taste is not just in clothes: Dolores lives in a 10,000sq ft home, Lough Derg Hall in Co Clare -- bought for €1.7m. The secluded house nestled in the Clare hills has spectacular views of Lough Derg. It has seven bedrooms, a hot tub and is surrounded by an eight-foot-high wall.

"She's splashed some money there with her house but fair play to her, she's a lovely woman and more power to her," said a Killaloe resident who lives near McNamara.

"I live a few minutes away from the house and I've seen her out and about a few times walking and that. She just seems normal; you wouldn't think she was worth a fortune if you didn't know who you were talking to."

Dolores lives in the property with her husband, Adrian. In July 2007, in a rare interview with his local newspaper, the Limerick Leader, Adrian revealed how the couple had kept a relatively low profile since their luck changed.

He said he and Dolores still visited Turkey on holidays and "stay in the same place and in the same apartment that we had before the win".

"We continue to have the same friends that we had before the win. These are people that we trust and that we would go to if we needed advice on anything. We are not being constantly watched by people and we feel safe with these friends," he said at the time.

The spectacular house is a far cry from the grey semis in Garryowen on Limerick city's eastern fringes. While she lives in plusher surroundings these days, McNamara has proven in the past seven years that a Euromillions winner can keep their feet firmly on the ground.

If her looks are anything to go by, then Dolores is wearing her millionaire status well.

Her attendance at the knees-up for charity in Dublin recently might signify that she is starting to feel comfortable stepping out in public again.

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