Northern Ireland news

Margaret Loughrey learned that money doesn't buy happiness

Euromillions winner Margaret Loughrey was beset by problems in the years after her lottery windfall. Picture by Hugh Russell.
Seamus McKinney

If ever proof was needed that money can’t buy happiness, it is in the tragic story of Strabane multi-millionaire Margaret Loughrey.

It is everyone’s dream to win a lottery jackpot and never again have to work or worry about money. While the majority of winners appear to enjoy life-changing windfalls, stories of lottery wins are littered with cases of heart-break.

In 1997, Scottish hospital porter, John McGuinness scooped £10m. After a spending spree and risky investment, ten years later, he lived as a virtual recluse, having spent almost everything.

Yorkshire IT manager, Roger Griffith invested heavily in business and property after winning £1.8m in 2005. The housing crash hit him badly and just eight years later he and his wife split, with each blaming each other for the fall in fortunes.

Likewise, Edinburgh EuroMillions winner, Jane Park blamed her £1m win for her unhappiness. She said it made her life “ten times worse”.

When Margaret Loughrey won her fortune she was unemployed and earning £58 a week. Her life changed overnight when she won £27m in 2013.

However, in the years after her win, the Strabane woman endured a series of setbacks.

She is believed to have lost heavily in an investment in the former Herdman’s Mills in Sion Mills.

But that was nothing to the other problems that beset her. She earned a criminal record in 2015 when she was convicted of assaulting a taxi driver during a drink-fuelled row.

There was further humiliation in 2018 when she was ordered to pay £30,000 to a former personal assistant after he sued her for unfair dismissal. Patrick Breslin said she mocked him because of his devotion to his Catholic faith.

Just months after her win in 2014, she was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and forced to take legal action to secure her release.

No-one can say if what befell Ms Loughrey was a result of her sudden good fortune. However, in an interview in 2019, the Strabane woman said the money brought her nothing but grief.

“It has destroyed my life. I have had six years of this. I don’t believe in religion but, if there is a hell, I have been in it. It has been that bad. I went down to five-and-a-half stone.”

Admitting that she had been happy before her success, she said: “I regret winning the lottery. Of course I do.”

For the Strabane woman, what could have been EuroMillions good fortune turned out to be a curse.

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