As It Happens

Irish island, population 200, desperate to know who won the lottery

Mary Murphy recenlty sold a winning lottery ticket — worth $735,835 — at her post office on Bere Island. But so far, nobody has claimed the prize.
Mary Murphy, left, with a representative from the National Lottery in Ireland celebrating the news that a winning ticket was sold at her post office. (Helen Riddell)

This story was published on  Sep 21, 2017. Later that month, a group of locals claimed the prize, but did not disclose their identities. 

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Residents of Bere Island, Ireland, won't leave Mary Murphy alone. 

For decades, she has run the post office in the community. On Monday, she sold the winning €500,000 ($735,835) lottery ticket. But so far, nobody has claimed the prize.

"People are texting me and ringing me from all over the world," Murphy told As It Happens host Carol Off. "They all want to know who won it, who did I sell it to. I don't know, and even if I know, I can't say."

Mary Murphy, outside her shop, with members of her family. (Helen Riddell)

While the small town — population 200 — is buzzing with speculation about who bought the ticket, Murphy is celebrating  the sale. Representatives from the National Lottery visited her post office on Thursday. 

"We have all the posters and the placards, we have all the bunting, we have everything up. They brought down champagne to celebrate the victory," Murphy said.

"The schoolchildren came over to say hello to us as well while they were here so we've had a great time here today."

She says many people have drawn comparisons to the 1998 film Waking Ned Divine, in which someone buys a winning lottery ticket at the post office in the small Irish town of Tulaigh Mhór.

In that film, the postmistress reveals a list of lottery customers — but Murphy says she's keeping her lips sealed. Still, folks keep pestering her for details. 

"They're speculating about who was here and who wasn't, and they told me they could check my CCTV. I said, 'Nobody is doing anything,' I said. 'Forget it,' I said."

While she won't name names, Murphy admitted she had some customers from out of town on Monday, which means the winner might not even be a Bere Island resident.

"It would be lovely if someone from Bere Island won it, and whoever has won it, I wish them the best of luck," she said. "I suppose we'll be watching out to see if anyone is getting anything new!"