Saturday 25 October 2014

Run-down horse centre a symbol of Gilligan's fall

Tom Brady Security Editor

Published 17/11/2012 | 05:00

The Jessbrook Equestrian Centre which was owned by the convicted drug trafficker John Gilligan and is to be sold by The Criminal Assets Bureau 16 years after it was first seized

It no longer looks like it could fetch €5m on the open market.

Built by crime boss John Gilligan as his idea of an international equestrian centre, Jessbrook is now no different to other distressed properties that have been abandoned and neglected.

Gilligan's dream of using the huge profits from his drug trafficking trade to fund the development of the centre was never really a runner as the site did not have the required infrastructure, including proper road access.


The plan was abandoned with the setting up of the Criminal Assets Bureau following the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin in 1996 and Gilligan's subsequent 20-year-old jail sentence for drugs offences.

The centre and 90 acres are now in the possession of the CAB after a 16-year court battle and will be offered for sale after it has been inspected by Kildare County Council engineers, who will determine if it is still structurally sound and can be sold as an equestrian centre rather than a big barn with stables and riding arenas.

The photographs show how the centre has been turned into a warehouse for the Office of Public Works over the past few years and has a generally dilapidated look, with a rusted padlock on the entrance gate and an overgrown avenue leading up to the buildings that have been lying idle, awaiting the outcome of a succession of court challenges.

The centre at Mucklon in north Kildare, between Timahoe and the outskirts of Johnstownbridge, was meant to have been a monument to Gilligan's success.

Instead, it will be a testament to his failure.

Its future should be determined before he is released from his cell at Portlaoise prison at the end of August next year.

Irish Independent

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