More than €2.5 billion has been paid out in 1,740 Lotto jackpot wins over the last three decades, according to figures released by the National Lottery to mark the 30th anniversary of the first ever Lotto Jackpot draw and win.

The highest Jackpot win was a mega €18,963,441 won in June 2008 by a syndicate in Carlow. And the counties with the most Lotto jackpot wins over 30 years are Dublin (572), Cork (173) and Galway (92). (see table below)

Ireland’s first ever Lotto jackpot winner was lucky Donegal woman, Brigid McGrath from Letterkenny, who won a life-changing £147,059 (punts) – the equivalent of €2 million in today’s money -  in the highly anticipated first Lotto draw on Saturday, April 16 1988.

A widow who had reared a very young family on her own she became an instant celebrity appearing on the front of newspapers and on news bulletin for days as well as being a guest on the Late Late Show hosted by Gay Byrne.

After the win, Brigid bought houses for her adult children and she also treated herself to a lovely cottage in Letterkenny Town. She was a great patron for the local community.

Today the man who sold that first winning Lotto ticket, Brendan Proctor of Proctor’s Newsagents in Letterkenny, recalled the excitement at that time.

“1988 was a completely different era in Ireland. The country was coming out of one of the worst recessions in the history of the State, and the new Lotto game allowed people for the first time to play for sums of money that they could never have imagined in their wildest dreams.”

He said: “The week of the first draw was just crazy. In my own shop in Letterkenny Town ticket sales were through the roof. On the Saturday of the draw queues for tickets were out the door such was the frenzy around the launch of the game.”

It was announced late on Saturday night that the Lotto had been won - but the National Lottery remained tight-lipped on the location of the winning ticket, something which created huge anticipation around the country with rumour and gossip as to who the lucky winner might be.

“I found out on the Sunday morning when the National Lottery called me at home to tell me I had sold the winning ticket. What a feeling that was! We had such a small close-knit community in Letterkenny and knowing that one of my neighbours had won a truly astounding amount of money was amazing. We had to keep it quiet for a couple of days but once the news got out it was a complete media circus in the town as reporters from every corner of the country flocked to get the scoop on who the lucky winner was.”

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