STEVE Collins, who left Ireland under a witness relocation programme after the murder of his son Roy, returned to spend Christmas with friends and relations.
Gardai in Limerick kept a watch on the Collins family throughout the holidays.
The family of Roy Collins, who was shot dead in 2009 by the McCarthy-Dundon gang, had moved abroad last March.
"Steve was in good form -- it was great to see him," one local said.
"This is a tough time of year for him as they are obviously thinking about Roy."
Before leaving the country, Mr Collins said that he wanted his family to have a normal life and not to be constantly looking over their shoulders.
"It is too much. Everywhere we go, the guards have to go with us. You are constantly thinking what could happen next," he said.
The move was made possible by an unprecedented €1m deal involving the purchase of Mr Collins's business properties by the Limerick Regeneration Agencies and Limerick City Council.
The agencies bought Mr Collins's Steering Wheel pub and the next door casino -- where Roy Collins was shot -- for €700,000
Limerick City Council purchased another Collins-owned pub, Brannigan's, and a small house for €365,000.
Ryan Lee -- Steve Collins's adopted son -- was shot twice in Brannigan's bar in 2004 after he refused to admit the underage sister of gang boss Wayne Dundon.
Dundon was convicted of threatening to kill Lee and was sentenced to seven and a half years imprisonment.
Roy Collins was murdered on April 9, 2009 at the casino he ran at Roxboro shopping centre. His father was working next door in the Steering Wheel pub at the time.
Gunman James Dillon (23) is serving a life term in prison for the murder.