A Longford father of two who scooped over €1m in Saturday night’s national lottery only purchased his winning ticket because of a last minute decision to visit his local butcher.
Ger Hand only made his way into Lanesboro with the view of picking up a few items from the south Longford village’s sole meat specialist, Terry McLoughlin.
But it was also an apparent lack of car parking availability on what was a typically busy Saturday that ultimately convinced the Newtowncashel man to try his luck in the national lotto.
“I was on my way into Lanesboro and just said to myself I’d go into the butcher. There was a line of cars in the town and the only space I could get was just down from Joe O’Brien’s (Corner Shop).
“I remember pulling out €15 from my pocket, getting a mineral and about to do a €10 quick pick. Whatever came over me I changed my mind and said ‘ah sure I’ll do a €12 one instead,” he recalled less than 48 hours after his €1.25m win.
As it turned out, that late change of heart had little affect as Ger’s winning numbers appeared on the ticket’s penultimate line, allowing him to scoop one half of last Saturday’s €2.5m jackpot.
Reflecting on those events on Monday, the Bord Na Mona employee saidthe trip to butcher Terry McLoughlin led to his good fortune!
“There’s no doubt about it,” he bullishly put it. “If Terry wasn’t there I wouldn’t have done it (lotto).”
And in a further twist, Ger revealed he didn’t actually check his ticket until the following morning.
“We were at a function in the Peer Inn in Newtowncashel when Margaret Gillen, our local hairdresser, mentioned that Joe O’Brien had sold the winning ticket.
“To be honest, it didn’t really enter my mind to check the ticket until the next morning. When I got up I said to my wife Ann ‘I think I have won the lotto’,” he said. However Ann wasn’t convinced and it was onlyl when Ger ventured downstairs to check the numbers on the home computer when reality finally began to set in.
“I just knew,” he continued, his voice raising in excitement by the second.
“Ann-Marie, my daughter then came in thinking it was some kind of wind up.”
A quick visit down to O’Brien’s confirmed what Ger had suspected all along, paving the way for widespread celebrations.
Asked how he intended spending the money, Ger confided both he and his family were still weighing up their options.
One decision he has made his mind up about, however, is his day to day work with Bord Na Mona.
“Oh be God, I’ll keep working” was his frank and sprightly reply.
“Nothing is decided yet, but I’m not going to go around and start leaping around the place.”
The one bonus, he said, was the fact he could now give his two daughters, Ann-Marie and Laura the future he had always longed for.
“At least I have their education secured. That, to tell you the truth, is a weight off my mind especially with the way the economy is going,” he added.
A few miles down the road in Lanesboro, winning lottery selling agent Joe O’Brien said news of Ger’s win was not the only stroke of luck his shop encountered at the weekend.
“We had another man who won €25,000 after he got five numbers and the bonus, so it’s been a great few days,” he said.
By far the store’s biggest lottery win, Joe said the double success was not entirely out of the ordinary.
“We had a syndicate that won €250,000 before this. Hopefully though next time I can win, never mind sell one,” he joked.