LOTTO LUCK Msgr John Delaney has been revealed as the priest who won €500,000 in the EuroMillons.
MAYO native Msgr John Delaney scooped €500,000 euro in the Christmas EuroMillions draw. His numbers came up trumps and delivered a welcome Christmas box for the genial priest, whose heart is anchored in Mayo.
John, who hails from Farmhill, Crossboyne, Claremorris, was home from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for the Christmas and celebrated two Masses in Crossboyne Church during the period.
Msgr John, who celebrated his golden jubilee in the priesthood in 2014, has spent all of his life in the ministry in Florida, the vast bulk in Fort Lauderdale, as well as a period of 15 years in Miami and a three year term in Palm Beach. He was assigned to Florida from All Hallows College in Dublin.
The young Fr Delaney became good friends with the Kennedy Family of Boston in the late 1960s and was a close confidante of Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, mother of President John Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy, both of who were assassinated in the turbulent 1960s in America. Rose died back in 1995.
“She was a woman of extraordinary deep faith and I was her private confessor for a few years. They always spent Christmas and Easter in Palm Beach back then. She said the rosary every morning before 8.30am. Her housekeeper was Ellie McGreal from Westport. Ellie made lovely Irish scones. Rose loved to maintain the closest of connections with Ireland.”
Speaking exclusively to The Mayo News, the newspaper he reads every week in Florida, Msgr John explained how good fortune came his way leading up to Christmas.
“I was walking along and enjoying the sounds and the Christmas lights of town and city when I decided to wander into the Donnybrook Fair shop in Malahide. I got the usual set of numbers plus a quick pick. My niece Carol in California was celebrating her birthday on December 22 so I decided to get an extra ticket with the lotto plus as well. My late mother’s anniversary was on the January 4, I was baptised on the 4th, so I purchased four tickets in the shop.
‘Maybe it’s you?’
“I paid no attention to the draw until my niece Deirdre called me on the Saturday morning to say that a ticket bought in Malahide had landed a half million win. ‘Maybe it’s you?’ she joked.
“I told her it was unlikely and that I was just getting things ready for Christmas and that I would check it later. So I headed back to the shop that evening and handed the tickets to the girl on the check-out. One of the first showed I had won six or eight euros but when she put the third one in, the machine kicked out ‘lottery winner’ with a print-out saying ‘Please call lottery office at this number’. It created some excitement in the shop.
“When I called the number, it said the Lottery office was closed until the following Thursday. I contacted a nephew and niece and they checked it out further and found that the Lotto Plus was one million as it was a roll-over from the previous week. There was also another ticket winner in Limerick in the draw so we each won half a million each. I went back to my apartment and double checked it before it really sank in when I knew I had the five numbers.
“Five days later when the lotto office re-opened, I called in with my nephew Cormac who is a chartered accountant. The staff had a warm welcome for us and it was like entering Fort Knox going through the security and up the lifts before entering the big room. We were asked to watch a video of around five minutes explaining advice they give to all winners.
“News somehow slipped out about a Mayo-born priest home from Florida who was the lucky winner of the half million prize. The media seemed to have a fascination about this and I was on the way back up from Claremorris when a journalist rang me to see if I was the winner of the lotto.
“Between one thing and another, a story appeared in The Irish Times and it seems they sourced a lot of information from the many stories you have written about me in The Mayo News and other Mayo papers over the years!,” said Msgr John.
Run of luck
A few years ago, Msgr John won the Garrymore GAA lotto jackpot of €17,000 and, on acceptance of the prize, wrote a cheque for €1,700, for the club, equalling 10 percent of his winnings.
“They told me it was the first time anyone had returned some of their jackpot winnings. I am a great believer in the 10 percent tithe which is very much part of Biblical tradition. I have a great fondness for Garrymore and have supported their lotto every week since its inception. Many of the Garrymore players have attended Mass in Crossboyne over the years. I have a great affinity with them over the decades. I regard Martin Lynskey as my ‘bookie’ and I always get him to renew my yearly contributions.”
For Msgr John, it is a bit of tradition when it comes to landing prizes. Several years ago, he won around £1,600 in the Irish Sweepstake when a £1 ticket scooped one of the residual prizes in the draw.
Back home in Florida, he landed $5,000 when the numbers 1, 2, 4 and 9 saw him claim the prize a few years ago. He has also won numerous smaller prizes over the years.
A few months ago, Msgr John was the recipient of a Mayo Cherishing the Diaspora Award at a ceremony in the Dalton Inn Hotel in Claremorris. Tommy Joe Duffy of the Mayo-based group presided at the presentation in the Dalton Inn Hotel.
Kevin Bourke (Ballyvary) of the Mayo Diaspora group said Msgr John has always been immensely proud of his Mayo roots and had helped many people during his five decades in the ministry. He spoke of his abiding love for Mayo and how he is always so proud to wear his distinguished red and green outfit when Mayo are playing in the major games.
A passionate Mayo supporter, Msgr John became a great friend of the legendary RTÉ commentator Micheál O’Hehir and his wife Molly (they had close connections with Lecanvey) and also with their great friend, the famous Jim McKay of ABC TV in America. “Micheál and Molly were among the guests at my silver anniversary celebration night in The Beaten Path, Brize, Claremorris, all those years ago. We were great friends. He was such a legend in the broadcasting world.”
The Crossboyne man has made numerous trips to Ireland over the years to see his beloved Mayo and has attended almost all of the All-Ireland finals they have contested since 1989. “Connacht finals, semi-finals, finals, I love them all. I still wear the Mayo hat I bought from Paddy Smyth in Claremorris several years ago. It anchored me to my home county.
“Along with so many others, I watched many Mayo games in the bars in Florida when they did tele-casts of the big games before the technological advances of the last 15 years or so. It was always a source of regret for us back in those earlier times that RTÉ did not have a shortwave radio service to relay the GAA games to us in America.
“I am immensely proud of the current crop of Mayo players and the tremendous enjoyment they have given to us all around the world.”
Msgr John has been my ‘Super Bowl’ correspondent on my Sunday night Late Show on Mid West Radio for the last 15 years or so. “I love relaying news of the big American game to listeners to the show. I love American football too and the Super Bowl is the pinnacle of the year. I look forward to continuing that tradition on Mid West Radio on Sunday night, February 4 when the 2018 final will be played in Minnesota.”
Msgr John returns to Florida on Friday after a most eventful vacation. His many friends wish this proud and noble son of Mayo all the best in the gentle climate of Fort Lauderdale and happy times following the National Football and Hurling Leagues and GAA summer championships on GAA.Go!