A 55-year-old man found in possession of almost €1.5 million in cash, which had been buried in a bog in Co Limerick two years ago, has been given a four-year jail sentence.

John Duffy, of Ballynanty in Limerick, had pleaded guilty to money laundering.

He was found drying some of the money in a tumble dryer when he was arrested.

Gardaí discovered the huge haul of cash buried in a field in Portcrusha, Montpelier on 14 December 2013, following a five-month surveillance operation into serious crime in Limerick.

Some of the cash was found buried in a bag in the ground, while more was found inside a large transport container located nearby.

A mini digger was also found at the site, and Duffy was found inside the container sorting and drying a large amount of cash in a tumble dryer.

The court heard the container was awash with cash in every corner, some vacuum-packed in zipped and sealed bags, and in boxes, and there were also latex gloves lying around.

Duffy told gardaí he received four deliveries of cash in bags and it was his job to break it down, but he did not tell them who gave it to him.

He said it was from the sale of illegal cigarettes and that he was being coerced into this work by a violent criminal gang, which gardaí accepted.

The haul was described in court as the largest ever seizure of cash from the proceeds of crime in the history of the State, and it took gardaí several days to count it.

It is now in the custody of the national mint.

Sentencing Duffy today, Judge Tom O'Donnell said this was a spectacular case given the amount of money involved, and the fact that it was being laundered in broad daylight, and a digger was retrieving what was buried nearby.

While he accepted these were the actions of a desperate man acting under duress, this was no defence.

He imposed a four-year jail term, suspending the final year.