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Follow the money - the hidden tale of greed behind the first Irish Hospitals' Sweepstakes and where those millions went

The first Irish Hospitals' Sweepstakes draw took place 90 years ago this month and it quickly became a global phenomenon. Behind the razzmatazz and the instant riches, however, was a hidden tale of greed. More than four decades later, investigative journalist Joe MacAnthony broke the biggest story in the history of the Sunday Independent and revealed where the Sweep millions went. Liam Collins reports on an astonishing saga

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An Irish Sweepstakes draw in 1964

An Irish Sweepstakes draw in 1964

An Irish Sweepstakes draw in 1964

If you poke around in the courtyards behind Cabinteely House in south Co Dublin, you will find the last relic of the Irish Hospitals' Sweepstakes - the massive drum which held the hopes and dreams of millions of people all over the globe. It is becalmed behind a locked gate, an unseen monument to what became known as "the greatest bleeding hearts racket in the world".

At its core 'The Sweep' - as it was popularly known - was a government-sponsored lottery tied to horse racing that aimed to raise money to prevent the hospital system from collapsing. However, in the process it funnelled vast amounts of cash into the hands of its founders: one-time Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) gunman Joe McGrath, bookie Richard Duggan and World War I veteran Spencer Freeman.


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