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Death of first Lotto millionaire

The Galway woman who wrote her name into Ireland’s social history as the country’s first ever Lotto millionaire died last week at UHG.

Mrs Rita Power, from Powers Cross, Ballyshrule, Portumna, had managed to live a quiet life despite her good fortune – never changing from the popular and grounded woman who raised four children with her late husband John Joe.

But for a while she was a national celebrity, after she won £1,200,537 back in 1989 – catapulting her onto the front page of every newspaper in the country.

And as with all of the best dramas, it was a last-minute change of heart that was to alter her life’s destiny – because she changed two of her chosen numbers at the last minute to land what was a five-million-to-one chance.

“I rubbed out two numbers and replaced them with nine and fifteen,” she told Connacht Tribune reporter, the late Bertie Donohoe, at the time.

She further revealed that she purchased a Lotto ticket every week – but with a million up for grabs, on that occasion she bought a second one just two hours before the draw at Billy Salmon’s in Portumna.

To be precise, she didn’t do it herself because she was at Mass in Woodford – but she sent her niece and nephew, Eithne and Tom Page, on their motor bike to buy the ticket!

And afterwards, in the Pages’ home, she heard the Lotto numbers and checked them against the ticket in her handbag – to find she was the country’s first ever Lotto millionaire.

“This win means security for the children,” said Rita, while her late husband John Joe was also careful not to lose the run of himself.

“All I want now is to go somewhere I’m not known and have a quiet pint,” he said.

The Powers continued working their small farm at Power’s Cross between Portumna and Woodford and divided the winnings among the family.

Rita passed away at UHG last week at the age of 78, surrounded by her loving family.

Predeceased by John Joe, she will be sorely missed by her daughters Colette and Josephine, her sons Noel and Declan, brothers Bobby and Joseph, her sister Betty, relatives, neighbours and friends.

Reposing of Remains took place at St. Mary’s Funeral Home, Woodford, before Funeral Mass and Cremation on Saturday in Shannon Crematorium.


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