The retail manager of the store where Margaret Loughrey bought her £27m EuroMillions-winning ticket in 2013 has said the “torture” of what came with it caused her “huge grief”.
olm Gallagher managed the Supervalu store in Strabane which sold the seven-billion-to-one ticket to Ms Loughrey, who was found dead at her home on Thursday.
Despite her enormous jackpot winnings, Margaret — who was given the nickname ‘Maggie Millions’ — never left her hometown of Strabane.
Police have said the 56-year-old’s death is not being treated as suspicious and a post-mortem examination will be carried out.
She bought the winning ticket while walking back from a Job Centre visit, and while living on benefits of just £58-a-week.
However, Ms Loughrey later claimed it had destroyed her life, saying she had been to “hell”.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Colm said: “She was a normal girl of the town and then all of a sudden she came into this huge win which was great for her.
“Then unfortunately situations happen, and it ended up it wasn’t as great for her as everyone thought it would be.”
He added: “I suppose the torture of the media, the torture of people — the spongers — caused her huge grief.”
Colm, who now manages a store in Omagh, said he last spoke to Ms Loughrey in 2019 when she had popped into the store one Sunday morning.
“She was just in doing a bit of shopping and just seemed like any normal person, getting on about her life.
“And we just treated her like every other customer,” he said.
“When someone gets that amount of money, you think they’ll change but it didn’t change her to the extent of her personality that I knew of.
“She was always respectful in our store.
“I just said, ‘Hello, how are you, Margaret?’
“That was it, really.”
Her status as one of Ireland’s richest women with a total of £26,863,588 to her name never came up in her visits to the store.
“She seemed be a nice girl and had great plans for what she wanted to do, and help the community in Strabane,” he recalled.
“That didn’t work out the way she planned.
“That’s the saddest thing about it; you think money brings you happiness, but it actually doesn’t.
“It just brings the opposite sometimes and in Margaret’s case that’s what happened.”
Recalling what it was like in the immediate media storm following her huge win, Colm said there was a “great buzz” locally.
“We had a great interest in buying lotto tickets in store.
“We had a guy come from Belfast to specially come and buy lottery tickets in the store.
“Obviously, that waned off after a few months.
“It was just nice to have that news in the store.”
Mr Gallagher’s tributes and condolences to Ms Loughrey’s loved ones come as local councillor Paul Gallagher praised the late multi-millionaire for her generosity.
Paul, who was also one of her neighbours, made quite a few donations to local charities which “made a difference in the town”.
The councillor said that while she was modest with her winnings, the lotto winner had given some members of her family £1m each.
In the council estate where she lived before her windfall, she also gifted neighbours £5,000.
Condolences have also been paid by Sion Mills Cricket Club, which plays on ground within the former Herdman’s Mill, which was purchased by Ms Loughrey in 2014.
She became embroiled in a row with the club after the team was denied access to the site. The matter was latter resolved.
In a post to the club’s Facebook page, a statement said: “Everyone at Sion Mills Cricket Club are saddened to learn of the passing of Margaret Loughrey and wish to extend our sympathy and condolences to Margaret’s family and friends at this sad time. RIP.”
Just four months after her win, Ms Loughrey was sectioned under the Mental Health Act but was later released from hospital following a legal challenge mounted by her lawyers.
In 2015, she was ordered to complete 150 hours of community service after being convicted of assaulting a taxi driver.
Three years later she was ordered to pay £30,000 to a former employee for bullying and firing him on a “vindictive whim”, after losing an employment tribunal.
Margaret later described life as a multi-millionaire as terrible, telling the Sunday Life in 2019: “If there is a hell, I have been in it. It has been that bad.”