Dance superstar Michael Flatley is selling his beloved Castlehyde mansion but insists that his heart will always be in Ireland.
The Chicago-born Lord of the Dance star, who bought the 18th century house and 100-acre estate in north Cork in 2001 for €3m, before pouring almost €50m into its restoration, said deciding to sell his Irish family home was one of the most difficult decisions he has ever made.
“I’ve had almost 20 years at Castlehyde and it has been a wonderful experience — some of the best times of my life have been spent there. That is what made this such a tough decision. There are so many happy memories.”
But it’s understood the death earlier this year of his father, Michael James, who loved to visit Castlehyde and who took great pride in his son’s restoration project, and a break-in and robbery in January 2014 while Michael, his wife, Niamh and their son, Michael St James, were at Castlehyde, were factors in his decision to sell.
It is also understood now that his Lord of the Dance show is on Broadway, he wants to spend more time in New York to ensure the shows are delivered to the highest standard.
Mr Flatley is also spending less time each year at Castlehyde as his London-based business expands. He recently bought a €28m mansion in Belgravia. He also owns a home in Barbados.
Details of selling agents have yet to be announced but it is expected the property will have a price tag of between €20m-€30m.
Mr Flatley first spotted Castlehyde from the air in 1999 as he scoured Ireland in a helicopter looking for a new home. The 1760s-built house was falling apart with flood damage to its basement and roof. He embarked on a long and difficult restoration project, pouring an estimated €27m into the house, and a further €20m on interiors, art and books.
Despite the vast expense, Mr Flatley said it was “worth every bit of it”.
“It took a long time to get here, but Castlehyde has become the place I’ll call home. Whatever happens in my life, this corner of the world is where my heart remains.”
Overlooking the River Blackwater, the house has eight lavish bedrooms, a spa, a 20-seat private cinema, an African safari room, a whiskey room, a music room, gym, and various reception rooms. The three-storey library takes 3,000 books, including first editions and signed copies of works by James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats and Sean O’Casey.
In 2006, Mr Flatley’s father said the restoration of Castlehyde made him very proud. “He’s come a long way since the days labouring on construction sites in Chicago in sub-zero temperatures,” he said.
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