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Ballynacally Cottage was once home of notorious drug smuggler Howard Marks

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*Howard Marks.

Paradise Cottage in Ballynacally was one of the safehouses used by notorious drug smuggler, Howard Marks.

Known to the world as ‘Mr. Nice’, Dennis Howard Marks was a notorious drug smuggler with strong ties to groups like the CIA, IRA, M16 and the Mafia.

Growing up in Wales as a Baptist from a well to do family, Mr. Marks took physics at the highly prestigious Oxford University, where he first formed his lifelong allegiance to trafficking cannabis. Seemingly innocent and affable in character, Marks established a line of powerful contacts within different organisations worldwide, allowing him to ship consignments of over 30 tonnes of cannabis at a time to the United States at his peak, hiding his product within coffins and musical equipment destined for fake burials or non-existent pop tours.

One of his most infamous stopovers and safehouses lay in the quiet village of Ballynacally, in a place called Paradise Cottage. In his best-selling autobiography, Marks details his first encounter at Paradise:

“It was a simple communication breakdown, Jim. There were no games. Here’s your £500. Where’s this cottage?’ We drove to a village called Ballynacally. At one of the pubs, we picked up a farmer with whom Jim had negotiated a rental the day before. The three of us drove up a winding road to a burned down and abandoned stately home. ‘This is Paradise,’ said the farmer. I mumbled puzzled agreement. ‘Are we renting that Jim there’s no roof.’ ‘Colonel William Henn used to live in that very house,’ the farmer continued, ‘but it’s the cottage nearby you’ll be renting. We drove to the remote cottage. There was absolutely no passing traffic. It would suit our purposes admirably. ‘What’s the address of this place?’ I asked the farmer. ‘Paradise Cottage, Paradise House, Paradise. Put if I were you Mr. McCarthy (Mr. Marks alias), I’d also put on the envelope that it’s near Ballynacally”.

Mr. Marks subsequently employed Marty Langford to guard the cottage which contained a consignment of two hundred pounds of the finest hand-pressed Afghani hashish. Several other shipments and notable drug smugglers made their way to and from the safehouse in the following months. Mr. Nice was given a 25-year prison sentence for international drug trafficking of which he served seven years in prison, being released in April 1995. He spent much of the rest of his life fighting for drug reform laws, before passing away on the 25th January 2015 of inoperable colorectal cancer.

An avid reader from a young age, Cian’s love of the archives has been shared by Clare Echo readers who enjoy his Reeling in The Years section. Charles Dickens, Terry Pratchett and Michael Crichton were his favourites writers in his younger years while he was always a fan of studying the opinion columns in The Irish Independent. A past pupil of Lissycasey National School and St Flannan’s College, he is currently completing his final year studies at the University of Limerick in New Media and English. From September, he will be commencing a Masters Degree in Journalism at UL.

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