Belfast Telegraph

Jobless Strabane woman scoops EuroMillions £27m jackpot after buying ticket on spur of moment


She was unemployed and living on £58 a week, but now she's one of Northern Ireland's richest women.

It was Margaret Loughrey's spur of the moment decision to do a lucky dip for the Lottery on her way home, which transformed her in to Northern Ireland's biggest-ever lotto winner.

The 48-year-old from Carlton Drive, Strabane, struck gold when she won £27m on Tuesday night's EuroMillions draw.

Speaking from her modest two-bedroom bungalow, Margaret recalled the moment she realised she had won the enormous £26,863,588.20.

"I left the house on Tuesday because I heard there was a job advertised and I wanted to apply for it," Margaret said.

"So I went to the Jobcentre and printed out the job application before going to SuperValu.

"I can't always afford to do the EuroMillions but I had a couple of extra pound in my purse and just on the spur of the moment I did a lucky dip," she said.

The shop assistant handed her the slip with the numbers 19, 23, 27, 42 and 44 with Lucky Stars 3 and 5.

In a seven billion to one stroke of luck, they were the exact numbers drawn.

"I got up at 7am on Wednesday and put on the television," she said. "I just had this notion so I checked my numbers and there they were. I was just in state of shock and I must have checked 10 times. I took a walk out to the back garden and sat out there for a while before coming back in and checking again. I must have walked around the house for five hours before ringing my brother and asking him to call up."

From struggling by on the £58- per-week Jobseeker's Allowance, Ms Loughrey is now officially one of Ireland's richest women.

Her millions rival those of singer Adele and far surpass the earnings of stars like Cheryl Cole and Coleen Rooney.

The unassuming SuperValu store situated on Main Street in Strabane where Margaret purchased the winning ticket wished her all the best.

Store manager Colm Gallagher (42) told the Belfast Telegraph: "It's fantastic. We are delighted and over the Moon for Margaret.

"Margaret would pop in on her way home, but I'm a new manager so I'm not familiar with everyone, but I would know her to see.

"It's wonderful for the lady and for the town.

"We have been quite lucky in the past with a fair share of good winners but this just tops the lot.

"We would like to wish Margaret all the best from the store."

Meanwhile, as Margaret comes to terms with her new found wealth, she revealed she is giving a chunk of it to her 75-year-old mother, four brothers, sister, extended family and a few close friends.

It is believed Ms Loughrey was married for a short time but has since amicably separated.

The pair had no children.

"I think I deserve it," she said. "I'm a good person and I bother no one.

"If whatever is out there has given me this amount of money, then it couldn't be for anything but good. All it will do is change lives for the better and make a lot of people happy, not just me."

Margaret revealed she had often dreamt of retiring to the south of Spain and now that dream could become a reality.

Neighbours of the multi-millionairess were stunned and delighted, with one man telling a Sunday newspaper: "Fair play to her, all the best and good luck to her. I am surprised she is still sitting in the bungalow."

Local shop owner Martin McBrearty said it was an "absolute dream".

"It's terrific and I'm delighted. It's great for her and for the community."

DUP councillor Allan Bresland told the Belfast Telegraph that the town was buzzing with the news. He said: "People are very excited, it's a lot of money.

"Everyone is talking about it. It's entirely up to herself what she does with it, but you would need to spend it wisely as I'm sure people in the past have thrown it away."

Northern Ireland's richest woman is thought to be TV actress and producer Roma Downey, who's worth a staggering £220m after a number of hugely successful TV mini-series in the US.

Biggest Lotto winners from Northern Ireland

1 Housewife Iris Jeffrey, from Belfast, was the biggest single Lotto jackpot winner in the history of the National Lottery after scooping the £20,100,472 Lotto Rollover jackpot in July 2004. Iris, who celebrated her massive win with her two daughters, Karen and Wendy, bought the winning ticket at her local Tesco store in Ballygomartin.

2 Derry man, Ryan Magee won £6,462,181 on February 8, 2008. One of his first purchases on winning a share of a massive £96m EuroMillions jackpot was a new Ferrari. The 27-year-old IT specialist had a premonition he would win and was so sure he would strike it rich that he bought 11 tickets in four different towns – and one of them did the trick. The winning ticket was bought in Ballymagorry post office, near Strabane.

3 Belfast bus driver, Peter Lavery, from Short Strand, scooped a massive £10,248,233 on May 18, 1996. Since his win he has become a well-known business figure in Belfast, investing in property development, restaurants and bars and his own whiskey label.

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