A FORMER gangster who was once one of the most feared enforcers in the London criminal underworld is to give a talk in Charleville about how religion has helped transform his life.
John Pridmore will share his inspiring story with parishioners in the Holy Cross Church in Charleville on Monday, April 29 at 7.30pm as part of the annual parish mission. This week, John is giving a mission in Boherbue and Kiskeam all week up until Thursday and Friday.
Born in the East End of London, Pridmore grew up surrounded by the trappings of the criminal underworld where life was cheap and cash was king.
By the time he was 15, Pridmore had already served time in a youth detention centre and left, in his own words, with only one qualification. "I knew how to steal, so that is what I did," he frankly admitted.
At the age of 19 Pridmore again found himself behind bars, spending 23 hours each day alone in his cell.
Following his release, Pridmore became a bouncer at clubs around the city, a position that allowed him free reign to indulge in his lust for violence and intimidation.
"I liked fighting, so I thought I might as well get paid for it. I met some guys who seemed to have everything and started to work for them," said the 48-year-old.
"Before long I wasn't working for them, I was working with them. These were the guys who ran most of the organised crime in London."
As he became immersed in the underworld, Pridmore reveled in the power that it gave him, becoming involved in massive drug deals, protection rackets and vicious crimes of all sorts.
His life became an uncontrollable orgy of fast cars, beautiful women, designer suits, and penthouse flats, all paid for with the ill-gotten gains of his drug deals and protection rackets.
"I had what I thought was everything - money, power, girls, drugs - the lot; but there was something missing".
That sense of incompleteness was forcibly brought home after Pridmore almost killed a man following a vicious brawl outside a nightclub.
In his best-selling autobiography 'Gangland to Promised Land', Pridmore revealed how that night changed his life forever. "After nearly taking that man's life something incredible happened and my life began to change," he said.
Having turned his back on the gangster lifestyle, Pridmore now travels around the world from his Co. Leitrim base, talking to young people and showing them the alternative to the violent lifestyle that he had lived.
"I now work full time for God. No one pays me. I live completely off his providence, telling my story all over the Earth," he said.