On the 31st of July 2005 Irish resident Dolores McNamara became the largest EuroMillions individual lotery winner. Having matched EuroMillions five winning numbers and two "lucky stars," she won a nine-week rollover jackpot of €115m. This made her Ireland's 72nd richest person.
Born in Blackpool, the English seaside resort, in 1960 Dolores has never been accustomed to the pleasures of wealthy life. Her father, Desmond O'Donovan, was employed as a tailor at a local hotel. Dolores attended a normal school and at the age of 17 she married a local bricklayer Adrian McNamara. Between 1978 and 1992, the couple had six children, three sons and three daughters.
One day as she was working as a part-time cleaning lady at Limerick Youth Centre, while her husband was recuperating after coronary artery bypass surgery, Dolores had purchased a ticket at Garryowen Stores, a small convenience store half a mile from her home.
She was sitting in the pub when people were checking EuroMillions winning numbers. The winning numbers were 3, 19, 26, 49 and 50 plus Lucky Star numbers were 4 and 5.
The barmaid said: "Dolores just threw her £1.50 ticket on the table and said 'Check mine'.
"The girl then went through the numbers one by one saying, 'You have that one and that one' and then finally said, 'My God you have won.'
"Finally when we realised it was true we went wild screaming and laughing and hugging each other.
"The only one who did not react was Dolores. She just sat there calm and collected and then had a stiff drink.
Her barmaid friend, Christine McNamara said: "When we fully realised how much Dolores had won we told her she had to get the guards to mind the ticket for her”.
"She went to the Garda barracks but they told her they could not take responsibility for the ticket. The guard contacted her bank manager and he came to the station. They gave her a Garda escort to the bank and the ticket was put in a safety deposit box in the vault”.
Five days later she claimed her record-breaking prize at the Irish lottery headquarters in Dublin and received world's largest lottery payout given to a single player.
Dolores, who had had a holiday home in Turkey for three years, narrowly escaped a bus bomb attack in the resort of Kusadasi shortly before the win. She came home and counted herself blessed. “And now lady luck has smiled on her again with this lottery win”, her friend said.
However, in a short while her family had to face the other side of the winning- journalists.
Her Solicitor David Sweeney said on the day when she was granted the prise: "Dolores is absolutely thrilled with her win but realises that it will take some time for the implications of her win to sink in.
"Up to now, Dolores has lived a very happy and contented life among her family, friends and neighbours and it is her sincere desire that she and her family will return to normality as soon as possible."
However, she never had an opportunity to live in peace ever again. It seemed like everyone wanted to know absolutely everything about her past and present while there was no place to hide.
Her Limerick house was flooded with reporters. Dolores and her family were forced to hide in the Crown Moran hotel in London. Her lifestyle and history came under intense examination of the journalists. One newspaper, citing details from her social welfare records, incriminated her in having committed welfare fraud by claiming unemployment benefits while she was actually working. When officials at the Department of Social and Family Affairs checked these leaks, they discovered that at least 72 employees had illegally looked through McNamara's welfare records in the days following her win. Although McNamara was never charged in connection with the alleged fraud, the employees were rebuked and the case occasioned public debate about the security of personal information stored in governmental computer systems.
In April 2006, she moved with her husband and two youngest sons to Lough Derg Hall, a €1.7 million, 6,000-square-foot hilltop home near the village of Killaloe, County Clare. The family had been plagued by death threats and kidnap plots. They had to flee their home in Co. Clare, Ireland, and have been forced to go into hiding under police protection.