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Saturday 17 November 2018

Lotto syndicate hit by tragedy on same night as €17.4m win

Syndicate winner Joe Connolly, General Manager, Stakelums Hardware. Photograph Liam Burke Press 22
Syndicate winner Joe Connolly, General Manager, Stakelums Hardware. Photograph Liam Burke Press 22
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

Subdued celebrations were under way in Thurles yesterday after 32 employees at Stakelums Home and Hardware store scooped a €17.4m jackpot.

While the town has been thrilled by the win, it was a bittersweet day for the syndicate as it coincided with the death of a member’s father.

They will share €543,750 each after their numbers came up on Tuesday night.

"It’s going to be muted celebrations as much as anything else," said Joe Connolly (40), the general manager of the shop and a syndicate member.

"We had a conversation among ourselves and it was agreed that, as a mark of respect for our colleague, we wouldn’t be jumping up and down."

The death happened on the same night that the winning numbers were drawn.

Next week, the group will get together at the National Lottery HQ in Dublin and take some time to enjoy their winnings.

The jackpot is being seen as a major boost for the local community.

Throughout yesterday, customers and well-wishers left cards and congratulated staff members.

"They’ve been so good," Mr Connolly told the Herald

"Shaking hands, congratulating us, cards, everything."

While they have been told €17m is the minimum jackpot of the EuroMillions, the group are not complaining.

"It’s life-changing to an extent for some," Mr Connolly said. "It depends on your situation in life.

"It will positively impact on 32 families.

"You want everybody to get it, enjoy it and to manage it."

He described the emotion of learning he had won as a mix of shock and excitement.

The company’s financial manager administers the syndicate, and he knew they had won almost immediately.

"It was quick enough, to be fair, him being an accountant, he loves numbers," Mr Connolly said.

"If the call had come from anybody else, I would have said, ‘This is a wind-up’."

Two members of the group are on holiday in Spain and will fly back home to sign for the winnings.

The syndicate has been operating for 25 years, though not all the shop’s 70 staff are members.

The company is owned by siblings Pat and John, the brothers of former Tipperary hurling captain Richie Stakelum.

Thirty-one years ago when Tipperary beat Cork to be crowned Munster champions, he famously declared that “the famine is over”, prompting a resurgence in the fortunes of the team.

Mr Connolly said they wanted to be conscious of those colleagues who had not won.

However, there was no hint of jealousy from his colleague, William Bowe.

"We’re all very excited here. We found out this morning and everybody’s so happy," he said.

"It’s a great amount for each of them to win, and it’s great that a group of workers have won it together."

Herald

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