Drug lord Gilligan's horse centre up for sale

John Gilligan pictured in 2005

An Olympic-sized equestrian centre that belonged to one of Ireland’s most notorious criminals has been put up for sale.

Convicted drug trafficker John Gilligan’s prized Jessbrook Equestrian Centre in Co Kildare was seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) 17 years ago.

The property has finally gone on the market after the bureau was given the go-ahead to sell it late last year, following a legal wrangle with Gilligan’s wife Geraldine.

“CAB is now in a position to sell off Jessbrook Equestrian Centre,” a garda source said.

“Adverts for the property and the land around it will appear in the newspapers tomorrow.”

The centre and its surrounding lands, in the rural Mucklon area, are expected to fetch around €500,000 – despite being previously valued at around €5m.

Gilligan, 61, is due to be released from prison within months.

He has claimed in court the only reason he was being pursued was because of the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin.

He was cleared of the killing but sentenced to 20 years in Portlaoise Prison for drug trafficking.

Drawn-out attempts to retain Gilligan’s properties faltered last November when the Supreme Court threw out his latest appeal.

The ruling meant the Jessbrook Equestrian Centre, along with 90 acres of land, and a house at Weston Green in Lucan, were handed over to the State.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) directed CAB to dispose of the assets on behalf of the Government.

The OPW had been using the equestrian centre as a store for furniture.

Gilligan is thought to have spent £1.5m developing the facility to international standards at the time, but it was never fully completed.

It includes two large stable blocks, one with saddle rooms and an apartment over the stables.

Everything was paid for at the time in cash, including a £300,000 seating arena, £700,000 in steel structures and £169,000 on buying land around the property.

The new owners can expect to carry out works, including roof repairs and the installation of electricity.

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