Lord of the dance Michael Flatley said a final goodbye to his “hero” father yesterday.
Michael Flatley Sr, 88, passed away 13 days ago in Chicago due to congenital heart failure. He had emigrated to the US from Culfadda in Sligo more than 60 years ago and later launched a successful construction company.
He was laid to rest in the village of St Mullins in Co Carlow, nestled beneath the Blackstairs Mountains, after requiem Mass in nearby Glynn.
Glynn is the dancer’s ancestral home with his mother Eilish, 79, hailing from the townsland of Dranagh. His grandmother, Hannah Ryan, had been a champion Irish dancer and had been widely credited with having given critical support and advice to him as he started out on his own dance career.
Michael had hoped his father and his own son, Michael St James, would be in the front row of Dublin’s 3 Arena tomorrow and Saturday so three generations of male Flatleys could witness the curtain being brought down on his record-breaking career.
He is making his final Irish stage performance as part of the Lord of the Dance — Dangerous Games show which is on a 200-date world tour.
Michael, along with his mother Eilish, siblings Annie, Liza, Thomasina (Thoma), and Patrick gave Michael Sr a traditional funeral filled with music and laughter as the close-knit family welcomed mourners to celebrate his life.
Michael Jr moved the few hundred strong mourners to tears as he paid an emotional tribute to his father.
“My mom has been a pillar and strength through all of this. I loved my father, he was my hero. He was a strong Irishman, proud and driven.
“He was a bit of a workaholic and he worked seven days a week, Saturdays and Sundays included. All the holidays I can remember I was working too along with my mom. She answered three phones as she ran the family business and she raised five kids. My parents just did what they had to do and they just got it done.”
His father, he said, loved Ireland.
Through tears, he said: “It made him very happy that I moved to Ireland. Some of my family memories are with my dad watching matches, drinking, laughing, and telling jokes in Castlehyde when he came to visit. Castlehyde will never be the same again.
“He loved everybody and he would just kiss everybody when he met them. He lived with dignity and he died with dignity.
“My last vision of my father was when I was leaving to get on a plane from [Chicago] after he died a couple of weeks ago. He was lying in his beautiful bed, and his beautiful Carlow bride of 60 years, was combing his hair and whispering in his ear. He had a look on his face saying that he was already in heaven.”
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