Big Lottery Winners

Dolores McNamara

Dolores McNamara, of Limerick, Ireland, is the largest individual prizewinner in European lottery history to date. She won the EuroMillions nine-week rollover jackpot of 115,436,126 on Sunday, July 31, 2005.

EuroMillions is played in the UK, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Portugal, France, Luxembourg, Spain and Switzerland.

Dolores' 2 quick-pick ticket matched the game's five winning numbers 3, 19, 26, 49, and 50, as well as the two "lucky stars" 4 and 5. She purchased the ticket at a convenience store near her home in the Limerick suburb of Garryowen. She claimed her record-breaking prize at the Irish National Lottery headquarters in Dublin on August 4, 2005.

Dolores was born in the English seaside resort town of Blackpool in January 13, 1960 while her father, Desmond O'Donovan, an emigrant tailor from Limerick, was working at a local hotel. The O'Donovan family returned later that year to Limerick, where Dolores' sister Deirdre was born in July 1961.

On June 4, 1977, 17-year-old Dolores O'Donovan married 27-year-old local bricklayer Adrian McNamara. The McNamaras have six children:

  • Dawn (born 1977)
  • Gary (born 1979)
  • Kim (born 1983)
  • Kevanne (born 1985)
  • Dean (born 1990) and
  • Lee (born 1992)

At the time Dolores won the EuroMillions, her Adrian was recovering from coronary artery bypass surgery while she was working as a part-time cleaning lady at Limerick Youth Centre, having recently left her job on a pharmaceutical factory production line.

When Dolores claimed her winnings, she issued a statement through her solicitor to say that "Dolores has lived a very happy and contented life among her family, friends and neighbors and it is her sincere desire that she and her family will return to normality as soon as possible. She is absolutely determined that her feet and the feet of her family will remain firmly on the ground." Dolores has continued to keep a low profile since her win, and has rarely spoken directly to the media.

Following the advice of National Lottery officials, Dolores locked most of her EuroMillions winnings away in an "untouchable" deposit account for the first six months. For nine months after her win, she continued to live in her modest Limerick bungalow.

Dolores' mother Betty O'Donovan passed away in October 2005 after a long battle with cancer, and in April 2006, Dolores, her husband, and her two youngest sons moved to a 1.7 million, 6,000-square-foot hilltop home at Lough Derg Hall, near the village of Killaloe, County Clare. The house has six suite bedrooms and an indoor swimming pool.

The McNamara family has been plagued by threats of abduction since the windfall. McNamara's son Gary was forced to leave his Limerick home with his girlfriend and child after police informed him that a criminal gang planned to abduct them and hold them for ransom. Dolores' children have all been equipped with personal alarms, and the family's new home has been fitted with a major security system for their protection.