A DELIGHTED Irishwoman flew straight home from the United States yesterday to tell her mother she had won $21m (€15.4m) in New York's State Lottery.
Trisha Eisel, from Tullamore, Co Offaly, was stunned to learn of her multi-million dollar win in the lottery this week.
Yesterday, she in turn was due to surprise her mother Margaret with the news -- jetting into Dublin as a multi-millionaire before travelling on to her hometown.
However, a blundering newspaper ruined the surprise by failing to keep the good news under wraps -- but Ms Eisel has ample compensation.
The single mother of three boys under the age of 10 learnt of her win earlier this week.
"I was doing my laundry at the time and decided to check the results from the night before.
"All six numbers matched the numbers on my ticket and I froze. I composed myself, gathered up my laundry and went to a friend's house to make sure I wasn't seeing things," she said.
But the 40-year-old would not have been 'in to win' the prize except that an earlier flight home to visit her mother was cancelled because of the poor weather in the US in late December.
"I should have been in Ireland. But if I had gotten out, I wouldn't have bought the ticket, I would have been at home," she said. "It's karma."
She collected her winnings on Thursday. Rather than be paid $21m in instalments, she decided to take a lump sum which works out at $7.9m -- about €5.8m -- after tax.
It is, she said, a "godsend", revealing plans to buy a new house and dog for her three boys. But she doesn't plan to tell them about her win. She will just say their luck has changed.
"I will buy a home, not a house, in New York," she said. "Something very comfortable with a big, fenced-in yard that the boys can run around in. I know they'll be thrilled when I tell them we'll also buy a dog to run around the yard with them."
After picking up her cheque, she returned to the Saloon bar on Long Beach in Long Island to celebrate with family and friends on Thursday night.
She has worked there as a waitress and bartender for almost 10 years -- but on Thursday she had a limousine waiting outside to whisk her to the airport. Her brother Brian, a part-time fireman in Tullamore, drove her from the airport yesterday. The three boys remained back home in Long Island.
Next-door neighbour Imelda Lenehan described Trisha as a bright, fun-loving girl who was always dedicated to her family.
Shortly after the news broke, Mrs Lenehan spoke with Trisha's 69-year-old mother. "She was calm as usual, Mags does not get excited. She'd just say God is good, isn't it great. I'd say she was in a state of shock."
"She's a great worker, a great friend, a great partner," John O'Brien told the Irish Independent from the Saloon on Long Beach yesterday.
"We've worked together for a long time and if anybody deserves it, it's her," the Corkman added.
Ms Eisel indicated that she would now cut back on the bartending to become a full-time mother. She left Tullamore for the US in 1995, first living in New York before settling in Nassau County.
She used money from tips to buy her $8 winning ticket.
"She's had to struggle monthly to support her children," her attorney Dorothy Going said when Ms Eisel picked up her winning cheque. "She waitresses and babysits to feed her kids."
Now she plans to bring those children to Disneyland. First, however, is the small matter of celebrating her good fortune in her hometown this weekend.