New owner and name for John Gilligan's former equestrian centre Jessbrook
CONVICTED drug dealer John Gilligan's former equestrian centre, Jessbrook, has turned over a new leaf with a new owner and name.
Now named the Emerald International Equestrian Centre, its new owner James Buckley was not deterred by the centre's past.
"It was a bargain. The former history of Jessbrook didn't put me off. This is the beginning of a new chapter for the place," said the show jumper.
The equestrian centre was seized from the Gilligan family by the Criminal Assets Bureau after a lengthy legal battle.
CAB sold the Kildare centre, on 55 acres, last spring for approximately €500,000.
"CAB were brilliant to deal with. It's all systems go," said Mr Buckley.
Mr Buckley plans to hold both show-jumping and eventing in the centre and is in talks with various events organisers in the equestrian world with a view to tying down dates and fixtures.
He also explained that there are stables there big enough to hold 50 horses as well as an outdoor floodlit arena.
Mr Buckley hopes to open the doors to the Emerald International Equestrian Centre this August to host the first shows.
Gilligan, who spent 17 years in prison for drug-trafficking offences, purchased the estate for approximately €445,000 in 1995. The criminal then spent €1.5m renovating Jessbrook into Ireland's largest indoor equestrian centre.