The housewife who scooped £80m is stunned into silence

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The Independent Online

Dolores McNamara, a Limerick grandmother who has six children, had indulged herself with a hair-do, facial and manicure during the week she spent steeling herself for her public debut. Everyone wanted to see and hear from the woman whose €2 (£1.40) EuroMillions ticket (the first she had ever bought) netted her, after a nine-week rollover, a cool €115m (£80m).

But, so soon after her acquisition of more money than she can comfortably spend in a lifetime, Mrs McNamara is still at the stage where exhilaration is accompanied by shock and even trauma.

So when she was chauffeured to the lottery headquarters in Dublin yesterday - where a man in the waiting crowd superfluously called out, "Good luck, Dolores" - she said not one word.

Instead, she left it to her solicitor David Sweeney to say: "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."

Normality will, of course, be difficult to achieve, as one indicator illustrates: the postal authorities are drawing up plans to cope with her extra mail, since major lottery winners can expect up to 10,000 letters.

After her rollover win, she treated herself and family members to a week in a luxury hotel, including the presidential suite. She has been glimpsed in both a Mercedes and a Jaguar.

Mrs McNamara is by all accounts honest, hardworking and very well liked in the Limerick suburb of Garryowen where she lives with her bricklayer husband Adrian, who is recovering after a triple heart bypass operation.

But the irony is Limerick has a reputation as possibly Ireland's toughest and most luckless city, with parts of it affected in recent years by lethal gang feuds.

Anthony "Noddy" McCarthy, one of five men convicted of a gang murder a few years ago, is said to be a relative of Mrs McNamara. A particularly tough nut, when sentenced he warned people in the public gallery: "For every action there's a reaction. You just remember that." A local journalist recalled with a shudder the worst affected part of the city: "There's a lot of houses boarded up, burnt out, stray horses everywhere, horseshit everywhere. Some of them, they're just absolutely mad - they'd stab you over a bag of chips."

But Mrs McNamara has had the luck to be well away from all that, and locals who lament the city's unfortunate reputation will hope that some of her luck will rub off on Limerick itself.

Last Friday night, before she won the prize, she was a housewife wondering whether to take a job. Described as normally quiet and reserved, she was incredulous to learn of her win from the television in her local pub.

That set her "screaming and roaring," and she burst into tears, according to those in the bar. A whirlwind of activity followed: local police said they could not keep the winning ticket in their station, but a bank manager obliged by storing it in his vault.

The McNamara family took refuge in a hotel miles away. Yesterday, Mrs McNamara had still not found her voice. But her makeover meant that she looked, appropriately enough, like a million dollars.