Irish Hospitals' Sweepstake

Irish Hospitals' Sweepstake

Irish Hospitals' Sweepstake

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The Irish Hospitals' Sweepstake was a lottery established in the Irish Free State in 1930 as the Irish Free State Hospitals' Sweepstake to finance hospitals, and is often referred to as the Irish Sweepstake. The was the act that established the lottery; as this act expired in 1934, in accordance with its terms, the Public Hospitals Acts were the legislative basis for the scheme thereafter. The main organisers were Richard Duggan, Captain Spencer Freeman and Joe McGrath. Duggan was a well known Dublin bookmaker who had organised a number of sweepstakes in the decade prior to setting up the Hospitals' Sweepstake. Captain Freeman was a Welsh-born engineer and former captain in the British Army. After the Constitution of Ireland was enacted in 1937 the name Irish Hospitals' Sweepstake was adopted.


The sweepstake was established because there was a need for investment in hospitals and medical services and the public finances were unable to meet this expense at the time. As the population of Ireland was unable to raise sufficient funds, because of its low population, a significant amount of the funds were raised in the United Kingdom and United States; often among the emigrant Irish populations. The winner was determined based on the outcome of several horse races; amongst them, the Cambridgeshire, Derby and Grand National.

The original sweepstake draws were held at The Mansion House, Dublin on May 19th 1939 under the supervision of the Chief Commissioner of Police, and...
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