herald

Thursday 17 August 2017

Price jump for horse centre once owned by gangster Gilligan

James Buckley, owner of Emerald International Equestrian Centre near Enfield, co. Meath which was formally owned by John Gilligan
James Buckley, owner of Emerald International Equestrian Centre near Enfield, co. Meath which was formally owned by John Gilligan
The massive equestrian centre and stables at Jessbrook House estate in Mucklon, Co Kildare

The Jessbrook equestrian centre built by convicted drug trafficker John Gilligan is expected to be sold for up to €4m by the end of the month.

In a nice piece of business, the property deal will be as much as eight times the price paid for it by its current owner just ten months ago.

But its future as a hub for show jumping and equine activity hangs in the balance because some of the potential buyers who have bid on it want to use it for a different purpose.

Druglord Gilligan built the massive centre in Mucklon near Enfield in Co Kildare in 1995, but never got to realise its potential after he was arrested by gardai.

JamesBuckley.jpg
James Buckley, owner of Emerald International Equestrian Centre near Enfield, co. Meath which was formally owned by John Gilligan

James Buckley

It was later seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau as Gilligan served a 14-year sentence, and was used for years as a storage depot by the Office of Public Works (OPW).

Last May, it got its first owners since the Gilligans when Newbridge native James Buckley (33) bought it for an estimated €500,000 and pumped a massive amount of time, money and effort into bringing it up to the standard of a first class equestrian centre.

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

There was shock then in horsing circles when the centre went on the market again in January when Mr Buckley was said to have been suffering health problems associated with falls during his career in horse riding.

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

The tender process for the centre on a 58-acre site was closed on February 27 and it is understood that up the offers of up to five bidders are being considered.

"The money being talked about is a multiple of what the previous owner paid for it," a source said.

"But then again he put a lot of cash into it to bring it up to standard and that would be reflected in the new offers that were received," they added.

Meanwhile, estate agents REA McDonald confirmed a new buyer could emerge shortly.

"We have had a number of offers but we have not finalised a deal yet as we are talking to a few interested parties," said Barry McDonald.

hnews@herald.ie

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