THE Irishwoman who won the New York state lottery continued working as normal for three weeks despite knowing she had become a multi-millionaire.
Patricia Eisel returned to Tullamore in Co Offaly last Friday to celebrate her $21.5m (€15.8m) win with her family after picking up her cheque the previous day.
But she had known of her good fortune for weeks.
"I kept it quiet for three weeks. I knew on January 6," she said yesterday.
"I got nervous, I didn't want any attention on my kids and I wanted to think."
Ms Eisel (40) kept working as a barmaid in Long Island and left her ticket in the care of a friend for most of the three weeks.
With three boys under the age of 10, she has taken a number of steps to protect them from the media coverage.
"I just worry for them, it's just an issue, they don't know, they think it is $125,000 -- which they might think is loads," she said.
"They don't know what is going on they just know mammy is going home, I reassured them that nanny was OK.
"I cant wait to go back and see them."
The single mother had been holding down three jobs to support her boys.
Now she has almost €6m in the bank after deciding against taking the bigger jackpot in instalments, and after the taxman took his share.
Ms Eisel, who moved to the US 15 years ago, said she will bring her boys to Disney World, look after her family and take her sons on a holiday here, as the bad weather had prevented their travel at Christmas.
"I am going to give them the Christmas holiday that they didn't get pretty soon -- here again and then Disney World."
Although Ms Eisel has no intention of treating herself to a flashy car, she does intend to get a driving licence.
But essentially, she just wants to "make sure everyone's happy, just live it".
She also revealed that she spent just $1 on the winning ticket -- the other $3 spent on the $4 ticket were secured from a previous win.
Ms Eisel collected her winnings last Thursday.
Rather than be paid $21.5m in instalments, she decided to take a lump sum which works out at $7.9m -- about €5.8m -- after tax.
Her mother, Margaret Daly, was thrilled to have her daughter home.
"I'm delighted for them, for her and the kids, because it is really what they needed for a start."
Mrs Daly didn't get carried away: "It's like a number to me. I never had money in my life, never wanted it. If she has any to throw my way sure. . ."
"It's been very exciting," Ms Eisel's brother Brian said. "We got the news on Tuesday night, she broke it to us and we were delighted."
He believes Patricia is more then capable of dealing with her windfall. "She has an apartment at the moment so she is going to buy a house for herself and the three boys with a swimming pool and room for a pony."
The response locally has been overwhelming, he added.
"The phones have not stopped, it's brilliant, congratulating and texting.
"One woman rang me last night and said it's not Tullamore, it's Offaly that's celebrating, so we will celebrate for another while. She'll fly back Tuesday."