I’m dangerously optimistic when it comes to games of chance. Any time there’s been a “big Lotto” over the past decade or so I’ve gripped onto the “it could be you” mantra with a little fire of excitement in the pit of my belly. God, imagine, it could actually be me, I muse as the draw approaches and I mentally snap up a converted cottage in Connemara that looks small but actually has three good-sized bedrooms – two of them en suite – and a stunning wall of folding glass doors to make the most of the sea view. It’s actually not a nightmare to heat at all because the renovation has been so high spec.
I rarely watch the lottery draws themselves, instead waiting to hear if the winning ticket was sold in an area I frequent. Usually this spells the end of my dream of instant wealth as a Spar in Clonakilty is identified as the lucky portal into the big money lifestyle. Even then though I might still be clinging onto a sliver of hope, musing I was in that Spar in 2017, I’m nearly sure of it. Maybe I somehow bought the winning ticket then?
I am, of course, brought crashing back down to earth when the country’s latest millionaire is confirmed to be a woman from Louth who bought a Quick Pick “for a laugh” on a hen weekend. She “nearly threw it away when she was cleaning out her handbag, ha ha ha ha ha”. Ha ha ha indeed, I hiss through gritted teeth.
Dangerous optimism is my main flaw when it comes to taking a gamble, followed closely by the fact that I could probably count on two hands the number of times I’ve actually bought a Lotto ticket in my entire lifetime. I’m so convinced that I’ve been robbed of a lucky windfall that I fantasise about Caitríona from Drogheda spiralling into a world of greed and betrayal with her Clonakilty winnings, despite the fact that I never even had any skin in the game.
Now picture what it’s like on those rare occasions I do shell out the €4 for a ticket. I usually have the tropical holiday for me and 30 of my closest friends already booked by the time I realise I’ve lost to a Dunnes Stores syndicate from Waterford.
It’s this tenacious optimism that convinced me a couple of months ago that I was on course to win a whole house. I’ve been thinking of making the Atlantic my back garden for some time now, way before the pandemic made everyone realise that they don’t need to be an hour from the city and their office desks. I’ve been dreaming of a windblown bolthole with just enough neighbours so I’m not terrified I’m going to be eaten by a banshee and close enough to a Lidl or Aldi or ideally a Big Tesco.
Buying such an idyllic retreat will require a lot of work though. It’s not enough to just set up the Daft alerts and send pictures of McMansions with jacuzzi baths to friends saying, “This is a bit much for me but something in this area with a bit of decking would be lovely.”
The first raffle ticket I purchased seemed like destiny. I had rented the house in question on Airbnb just last summer
I’ll actually have to struggle to get a mortgage, find the dream house, be outbid on it and a further five dream houses before frantically going 20 grand over budget on a 200-year-old farmhouse with mushrooms growing in the front room. So, when the concept of simply winning a house in a raffle was presented to me, I grabbed onto it with my full body.
Donegal is the epicentre of houses for raffle. And by epicentre I mean I’ve found and entered two online competitions to win a mortgage-free turnkey home in the birthplace of Daniel O’Donnell and McDaid’s Football Special and am considering a third on the Donegal/Derry border. The first raffle ticket I purchased seemed like destiny. I had rented the house in question on Airbnb just last summer. It was a three bed on Arranmore with stunning views and a confusingly large kitchen.
My new house has great potential, I thought as I splashed out on five raffle tickets at a tenner a pop, and yes the island is remote but I think SuperValu do deliveries on the car ferry. Imagine my rage when an email alerted me that the draw had been made and I was, in fact, not the new owner of House in Arranmore. I was apoplectic. Undeterred I went again, opting this time for a house on the mainland. The raffle was hosted by someone benevolent sounding like Jean or Brian and I was convinced bad luck couldn’t strike me twice. But again, I was left holding my virtual peach ticket convinced I had been swizzed like all those real-life raffles where I was so certain I was going home with the duo of Dada wines. I’ve been burned twice, but I’m not giving up, even though the house always wins.