After the long, sweeping drive up to the 17th Century manor house estate, just inside the entrance to the stately Finnstown Castle Hotel, there's a flight of stairs. Climb the stairs and there's Jimmy Mansfield, pacing the floor of his office, talking animatedly, then walking around his black swivel chair.
That's Jimmy Mansfield Jnr, of course. The 53-year-old second son of the once super wealthy, but now deceased, Jim Mansfield. Like his father, Jimmy Jnr has had fair share of headlines, and then some.
Among the highlights, from last year…
Former INLA man Dessie O'Hare, who was known as 'The Border Fox', told gardai that he was employed by businessman Jim Mansfield Jnr to evict an employee and his family from his home, the Special Criminal Court heard today.
April 3, 2019
And then, seven months later…
Businessman James Mansfield Jnr was subjected to a violent burglary at his home in which he was allegedly punched by a man who then began swinging an ornamental sword around, a court has heard. The court was told a gang of five intruders, some armed with Stanley blades, got into his house, with one threatening his ex-wife that if she called the gardai she would be shot.
November 8, 2019
And a month after that…
Businessman Jim Mansfield Jnr is to stand trial at the non-jury Special Criminal Court next year on charges relating to false imprisonment and the perversion of justice.
December 9, 2019
He's wearing a gold Rolex and swinging from side to side on his chair, brimming with energy, keen to explain how so many people have it wrong about him and his family.
Earlier this month, it was reported that he is suing gardai and the DPP for "malicious prosecution" after being accused of unlawfully possessing 180 rounds of .22 Walther ammunition. The case never went to trial and was withdrawn in 2018.
The hotel was closed in the lockdown and is being rented by South Dublin County Council. A Mansfield Group staff member who escorted me to his office left us alone, after joking about the difficulty of getting the boss to sit still long enough to talk. He's already halfway through his first story before there's even a chance to switch on the Dictaphone.
"I think it's the best story in the f***in' world. Did you ever hear anything like this?" he asks.
It begins with his father and one of the great Irish rags-to-riches stories. Jim Mansfield Snr left school at 14 to work in a quarry. He ended his days living in Tassagart House, after building a property empire he estimated to be worth €1.6bn in 2006.
Four years later, his Citywest hotel complex went into receivership and things went from bad to worse for the Mansfields after that. The following year, Nama seized the family's last major assets, including Palmerstown House and Weston airport.
Like the man he was named after, Mansfield Jnr didn't bother much with a formal education. "I never went to school, I don't read," he says. His father started him out in the business, "picking stones" off the land.
"I was his shadow," he says. "We bounced well off each other."
He remembers transforming the Clondalkin paper mills site into a shopping centre, along with his older brother Tony and the younger PJ: "I must have been 20 years of age and we worked there seven days a week, from six in the morning 'til f***in' 12 at night, knockin' the building. Like I remember drivin' a digger, loadin' it and drivin' the dumper. We done it all ourselves, lashin's of rain. It didn't matter what it was, we just kept goin' at it - we didn't know any different."
After making a billion, he says, the family's only thought was "when do we get to the next one?" They acquired art by Picasso, a Ming vase, a Rolls-Royce. His own Ferrari was lipstick red, but such extravagances, he says now, were just "tools of the business".
He was linked to the late model Katy French, who collapsed and later died in December 2007 while out socialising. She was found to have cocaine in her system. In the weeks before she died, she had been living in a Mansfield-owned apartment at Citywest and driving a €100,000 Range Rover, which had been lent to her by a car dealer friend of Mansfield Jnr, Lee Cullen.
His relationship with French, he says, was exaggerated. "I wasn't dating her, as such. I knew her through Andrea [Roche, the model once married to his brother PJ]. I would never have been on my own with her."
Did he ever see her taking drugs?
"No. I never saw her taking them and I wouldn't have known [she was]. I wouldn't have been that close with her to discuss something like that. There was never really a relationship." But, he quips, "I wouldn't have minded".
There's a knock at the door and an attractive woman with long chestnut hair says hello. It's Donna, his ex-wife of almost 20 years.
"We work together, we get on great," he says.
Then why split? "I like to do my own thing - work, work, work. I could be here 'til 10 o'clock at night and then, when you go home, you're walking and thinking."
When his father's health deteriorated, Mansfield Jnr - by then the main player in the business - had a bed installed downstairs in the family home.
"His mind was perfect right up until the day he died. He knew we were pullin' and draggin' and goin' to get back to where we were. He knew nobody was goin' to starve behind him because I was going to keep goin'.
"I said, 'I will be fighting for everything that was robbed off us'."
Receivers sold off most of the property, but he managed to hold on to "a good bit of stuff", including Finnstown Castle. He was there on January 24, 2014 when the call came: his father had died in his sleep.
He turns his head away: "Jaysus, he would have done seven lifetimes worth of work, that man, you know?"
His father's death, he says, "probably hasn't even hit me yet because it's all been turmoil [since]… In the mess, you had so much going on in your head, you never even had time to grieve."
In May 2014, a wedding party was in full swing at Finnstown and Mansfield was at the property when word came through that there was a bomb in the hotel car park. Samuel Devlin (58), a Finnstown guest at the time, was arrested after the discovery. Mansfield says a member of staff knew him and had asked if he could be put up in a lodge. Devlin was convicted of possessing explosives after a Special Criminal Court trial in 2016 and sentenced to six years in prison.
Today Mansfield Jnr says the incident was "a set-up".
"Where was the bomb?" he asks. "Did anyone ever see it? Did anyone ever come in looking for the CCTV? Did anyone come back to us to say what it was or wasn't?"
Mansfield denies ever meeting Devlin.
So was it just bad luck that the staff member arranged for him to stay at his hotel?
"Absolutely. And he didn't come to me about it. It was put in through the hotel.
"I was never seen with Samuel Devlin or any of them. It had nothing to do with me."
In October 2014, Mansfield was warned by gardai at Clondalkin Garda Station about a threat to his life. It was said to have been linked to criminals associated with Traveller gang boss 'Fat' Andy Connors. The previous August, Connors had been shot dead in front of his young family at his home.
At the time, Mansfield denied his life had been threatened. He did so again last week.
"It's a load of bullshit. If somebody is going to shoot you, you have done something wrong and you know where it is coming from. I never did anything wrong. I don't have any enemies."
He says he knew Connors from "up around our area" and had met him in passing.
"I had no dealings with him. He was in and out of the hotel and that, oh yeah, [but] there was no dealings with Andy Connors."
On January 24, 2015 - the first anniversary of his father's death - armed gardai stormed the family home at dawn.
"I heard they were cutting down the gates," he says. "I heard banging. I was f***in' shaving. There was guards all over the place with guns and they were wearin' helmets. I thought 'what the f**k is goin' on here? Next thing I heard the crashing of glass.
"I was coming down the stairs and they were pointing the guns at me with red lights [saying] 'put your hands on your head'. And I'm there, 'what the f**k?'"
That August, he was photographed leaving a hotel in Blanchardstown with a well-known criminal, Thomas 'Nicky' McConnell, a few steps behind him. Herald journalist Ken Foy reported that the two men, accompanied by a third, drove away together in a black Audi.
At the time McConnell had more than 80 convictions, including threatening to kill a woman, drug dealing and possession of firearms. McConnell has been wanted since 2016 over the murder of Gareth Hutch, a nephew of Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch. He was arrested in Turkey last weekend.
I show Mansfield the picture of him with McConnell.
"Ha ha," he says. "This is another set-up." He claims he "never met Nicky McConnell", and adds: "It's funny how there was a picture taken, isn't it?"
Did he get in the car with McConnell after the picture was taken?
So McConnell just happened to be walking out of the hotel behind him at the time?
"No. I don't believe 'he happened to be walking out'. I believe it was a set-up."
He looks surprised on hearing that McConnell had 80 convictions: "Is that right?"
He doesn't deny being friends with another notorious criminal, Lee Cullen, who is now serving 21 years in a UK prison for smuggling guns into England for the Kinahan organised crime gang.
"He was a very good friend of mine. I always had good time for him. One of the nicest fellas I ever met. F**k me," he says, looking perplexed, "he was a lovely fella. I don't know what happened." He says he had no knowledge that his friend was involved in criminal activity.
I say that he seems to have unwittingly found himself in a lot of bad company. He says he might have crossed paths with even more criminals, unbeknownst to him.
"We are in the hospitality business... You are in a place where you have every [event] going on. You could have someone who is having an anniversary, someone who is married, they could be the biggest criminals in the world, I don't know."
Not for the first time, he denies ever laundering money for gangs. "No, never. Because remember about money launderin' - if you get money off some of them [criminals], you probably have to give back double.
"When we borrow a million pounds off Bank of Scotland, you give back 2.5pc. So for a lend of a million, you give back €25,000 in a year. Do you think you're going to get cheaper money anywhere else? Would you get it cheaper off any drug dealer? I don't think you would. Do you?"
(In December 2011, Bank of Scotland was granted a summary judgment against his father for €214m).
He also denies ever being involved in the drugs business. "Never. And with regard to taking drugs… if someone can come up of a picture of me, [but] they can't because I have never done it. That's why I am sitting here happy."
There is also the matter of the Mansfields' collection of weapons and bullets. Along with PJ, he was in and out of court for three years until May 2018 on charges of unlawful possession of ammunition.
PJ denied possessing 1,252 rounds of .22 calibre ammunition. After a search of his house, gardai found a legally held Walther .22 pistol, with a bullet in the chamber, behind a picture frame in the master bedroom. A 12-gauge shotgun, also licensed, was recovered from a locked gun-safe in the wardrobe of a dressing room, along with a large quantity of ammunition in various locations.
PJ's trial eventually collapsed after the judge found the prosecution was unable to prove its case.
Charges against Jimmy Jnr were also dropped and three weeks ago, his solicitors issued High Court proceedings over his arrest. He complains that news of the charges against him and his brother being dropped received little coverage in the newspapers.
But why did they have so many bullets at home?
"Because..." he says, pausing. "When you take .22 bullets you could put 800 of them in a pint glass. When you go in to buy bullets, you don't buy 10. A box of bullets could have a thousand in it."
But why have any?
"Because we were a member of a gun club and we would go shootin'."
Did his father teach him how to shoot?
"Not really, sure you know yourself, there's nothing in shooting - just pull the trigger."
He says his father owned "up to 30" guns.
"He had a little gun room. All old powder guns - different bits and pieces."
Speaking of guns, there was also the story of a pair of valuable duelling pistols that went missing from Palmerstown House. They had been owned by the property's previous occupant, Anne Bullitt, an American heiress. When Mansfield Snr bought Palmerstown House from Bullitt in 1998, he claimed he was also acquiring its treasures, which included the duelling pistols presented to George Washington by one of his generals, the Marquis de Lafayette, in 1776.
In 2009, two years after her death, Bullitt's estate contested the matter in the High Court. The case was soon struck out by Justice Mary Laffoy "with a little note of sadness": she said she would have liked to have heard more about the family treasures. Mansfield Snr said he knew nothing about the whereabouts of the pistols.
Eleven years on from those court proceedings, Mansfield Jnr says he remembers the Palmerstown pistols.
"Absolutely I did see them. I seen the pistols in the house. Two little duellin' pistols. I seen them and they went missing over one weekend. She [Bullitt] showed them to me," he adds.
"They were on a dressing table. Oh Jaysus, I seen them, I definitely seen them but I didn't even think of the extent of what they were."
He denies any connection to their disappearance.
"I tell you if she gave them to me, there would be nobody getting them anyway. That's for sure… George Washington himself could come after me. He wouldn't be getting them back."
He returns from the toilet and takes his seat again. He is now holding a pair of scissors, pointing and twirling them as he talks. I ask if the stress of the past few years has affected his mental health.
"No, I'm grand. I was always mental anyway," he laughs.
He believes he will clear his name. "I haven't done anything wrong. I haven't conned anybody, I haven't robbed anybody, I haven't shot anybody and I didn't do drugs. I am going to keep going. And I will fight 'til the bitter end to clear it [his name]."
He will be before the Special Criminal Court later this year, charged with the false imprisonment in 2015 of Martin Byrne, who worked for his father for 20 years.
He denies charges of conspiring with one or more persons to falsely imprison Martin Byrne and attempting to pervert the course of justice by directing the destruction of CCTV footage.
Two figures associated with the INLA, Dessie O'Hare and Declan 'Whacker' Duffy, were jailed last year after admitting the false imprisonment of Martin Byrne and other charges.
Does he worry about jail time, if he is convicted?
"I won't fill up my mind worrying about something that hasn't happened. I am very good that way," he says.
He explains that if he had something to hide, he would be "sitting here worryin' and sweatin'." He says he has nothing to hide.
The son of a one-time billionaire has been granted legal aid after the Special Criminal Court was told he has a €6m judgment against him.