Sunday 20 April 2014

Jessbrook: Inside what was once John Gilligan's €5m equestrian centre

Eerie images show the centre which is now on sale for €500,000

JESSBROOK equestrian centre, which was the jewel in crime boss John Gilligan's property portfolio, has been put on the market for €500,000.

Once valued at €5m, it has been put on the market by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) and will be sold by private treaty.

The CAB was given the go-ahead to dispose of the property by the Supreme Court last November.

That followed a 16-year court battle between the bureau and lawyers for Gilligan's wife, Geraldine.

Jessbrook, at Mucklon, Co Kildare, was handed over to Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin and passed on to the OPW to finalise the appointment of an auctioneer and a date for sale.

The property will be offered in three lots. The first comprises 49.55 acres with a 3,000-seater indoor arena extending to about 5,645 sq metres, with two stable blocks including administrative buildings and commentary box.

Lot two is 8.73 acres, while the third involves 21.13 acres of grazing land.

John Gilligan: gangster was the first major target of Criminal Assets Bureau

The property is now being offered by auctioneers REA McDonald Lowe and Associates.


Developed at a cost of €1.5m in 1995 and 1996, it was regarded as the biggest indoor equestrian centre in the country.

The arena, which has never been used, is completely enclosed with "the best of thermal roofing".

One plot of land not included in the sale involves 4.5 acres and a house, which is currently the subject of a freezing order in the High Court which is under appeal by Mrs Gilligan.

A date for the appeal is expected to be set shortly.

John Gilligan, who is currently serving a 20-year sentence at Portlaoise jail for drug trafficking, was the leader of the gang that murdered 'Sunday Independent' journalist Veronica Guerin in 1996.

In response to the killing, which shocked the nation, the Government set up the CAB to track down and seize the assets of gangsters and terrorists. The bureau's first major target was Gilligan.

While in jail, Gilligan received a further six-month consecutive sentence for illegal possession of a mobile phone behind bars.

The gangster plotted his campaign to fight the CAB through the courts from his cell, and the case wound its way slowly through the courts from the winter of 1996 to last November.

Gilligan had reckoned that the centre would become his prize asset, but the big fall in property prices has reduced its value by €4.5m.

Over the past few years it had been rented by the OPW, which used it as a warehouse to store broken furniture and computer monitors, out-of-date publications and non-confidential documents.

Irish Independent

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