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John Gilligan's Jessbrook now back on sale

The former Jessbrook equestrian centre built by convicted drug trafficker John Gilligan is up for sale again, just months after its new owner bought it.

The news is a blow to the sport of show-jumping and comes as the owner announced he would have to place it on the market for health reasons.

Newbridge native James Buckley (33) bought the 50-acre landmark centre near Enfield, Co Kildare, last year for an estimated €500,000.

The centre had been put on the market by the Criminal Assets Bureau.

difficult

It had seized the centre from druglord Gilligan, who built it in 1995 but never got to realise its potential after being arrested by gardai.

Buckley had renamed the centre Emerald International, and in November held its first show-jumping event.

In a statement to the Herald today, Mr Buckley confirmed that it is his intention to place Emerald International on the market for sale.

"This has been a long, and difficult decision and this is not a decision I have come to easily," Mr Buckley said.

"Emerald International will require a huge commitment from myself and, due to health reasons, I am now no longer in a position to give such a commitment," he added.

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Emerald International has cancelled all of its proposed 2015 shows, just weeks after it held its inaugural Emerald Masters show and had booked dates for international shows this year.

Both Horse Sport Ireland and Show Jumping Ireland were notified in writing by representatives earlier this week that all proposed 2015 show dates have been cancelled and the centre is up for sale.

After buying the centre last May, Mr Buckley described the price he paid at the time as "a bargain'' and later outlined ambitious plans for the centre including the hosting of international shows, demonstrations and coaching sessions.

"As soon as the centre came on the market I was interested in it. This is now the biggest purpose-built equestrian arena in Ireland, and possibly Europe," James had told the Herald, prior to the first event at the facility.

surgery

"We are opening bars, a restaurant and corporate facilities, as well as the indoor arena, two outdoor arenas and stables for 106 horses, all in a wheelchair accessible venue," he added.

While there was no details on Mr Buckley's health, it is understood he is soon to face surgery from which a long recuperation will be needed.

The arena has seating for 3,000 people and a state-of-the-art lighting system.

With the investment that has been made in the centre it's speculated that the centre could achieve a high price on today's market.

hnews@herald.ie


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