Sunday 19 May 2019

Gold strike for quarry team

Eimear Ni Bhraonain

SIXTEEN quarry workers woke up millionaires yesterday morning -- and some even managed to clock in for work bright and early.

The lucky workers, who shared Ireland's biggest ever Lotto windfall, yesterday said the win "won't change us". Some of the down-to-earth winners said they were simply looking forward to "paying off the bills".

The loyal employees who work in the garage section of Dan Morrissey Irl Ltd, play the Lotto every week and often joked about scooping the jackpot.

Yesterday, the champagne started to flow as the reality of their dream win began to sink in.

One of the workers held a celebration house party in Ballinabranna, Co Carlow. The 16 members of the syndicate will wait until tomorrow or Thursday to collect their cheque for €18.9m -- or almost €1.2m each.

Pat Kearns and Robert Lewis were among the first to arrive in work at the Bennekerry, Co Carlow plant early yesterday morning.

"We're all over the moon about it . . . we're just trying to get our thoughts together and get all the people together to assess what we're going to do," said a jubilant Pat Kearns.

Two members of the syndicate are on holidays abroad and were contacted by text about their jackpot win. "People are spread out a bit. Some of them are out of the country, so we're waiting until we gather them," added Mr Kearns.

The two are in London and Canada, and are trying to arrange flights home.

The group is to meet later today to discuss their trip to Lotto HQ in Dublin to collect their winnings. The members of the winning syndicate are: Michael Morrissey, Brendan Morrissey, Tony Egan, Robert Lewis, Thomas Cassidy, Pat Kearns, Thomas Kearns, Audrey Kearns, Patrick Comerford, Ken Tracey, Joe Fennelly, Benny Doyle, John Doyle, Aaron Doyle, Sean Gahan and Liam O'Neill.

The group of mechanics and store people from the Bennekerry plant in Co Carlow started the celebrations on Sunday evening after they realised they had won.

Calls flooded in to local radio station KCLR about the lotto win yesterday. Francis Black, whose partner, Robert Lewis manages the syndicate told KCLR of their initial disbelief.

"He came home to me yesterday and he says 'I think we're after winning the Lotto'. He does it every week for them. He said, 'I'm going to work,' because when he heard about the €32 quickpick he knew . . . We just knew then . . . He went out and scaled the fence in Morrissey's and got it (the ticket) and came back around 5 o'clock. We just asked the neighbour to check it to make sure and the rest is history."

There are a number of family members in the 16-strong syndicate including brothers Michael Morrissey and Brendan Morrissey, who work in their family business, and brothers Pat Kearns and Thomas Kearns and Pat's daughter, Audrey, who used to work for the company. John Doyle from Castledermot, Co Kildare and his son Aaron and relation Benny Doyle were also winners.

The mood in the offices of the quarry was joyous yesterday morning. It's not the first time for the company's staff to strike it lucky. In 2001, a different 16-person syndicate in the offices of Dan Morrissey's won the Lotto Plus draw, scooping €250,000. Sean Black who was part of that syndicate said 16 seems to be a lucky number for Morrissey's workers: "The first time that the Lotto Plus 1 came out, it was a quarter of a million and there were 16 of us as well. We got €16,666. We were actually delighted with it at the time.

"There's different syndicates in here. We have one in the office, the lads in the garage have one and the ready-mix lads have one. I'm absolutely delighted for them," he added.

The record €18.9m jackpot had rolled over for 16 draws since May 3. The winning numbers drawn on Saturday night were 04, 12, 26, 27, 29 and 37, and the bonus number was 38.

The winning ticket was bought in Hickson's supermarket on the Staplestown Road in Carlow last Wednesday. The family-run shop has sold winning jackpot tickets, under previous management, in 2000 and the 1980s.

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