The burglary took place at the Castlehyde property of the Lord of the Dance, which overlooks the River Blackwater in Cork, after 6.20pm. Mr Flatley and his family, who spend limited time at the sprawling Fermoy estate, were unaware of the robbery at the time.
The four-storey mansion holds many treasures, not least a Steinway grand piano, a valuable collection of flutes and rare collections of French and Italian wines but a senior Garda source said the gang stole just one rhino horn. “They specifically targeted this item, a rhino horn,” the garda said.
The house also contains priceless fireplaces and a library housing many first editions including signed copies of works by James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, WB Yeats and Sean O’Casey.
Gardaí believe the gang had the property under surveillance for quite some time. About three years ago, gardaí intercepted a gang, believed to be from Clare and Limerick, en route to Castlehyde with sophisticated burglary equipment.
An Irish gang specialising in the theft and trafficking of illegal rhino horns, is the subject of a threat notice from criminal intelligence agency Europol.
According to Europol, the Traveller gang — which has links to Rathkeale in Limerick — sources and acquires rhino horns through targeting antique dealers, auction houses, art galleries, museums, collectors and zoos.
Rhino horns can reap up to €200,000 per horn.
Gardaí are seeking to interview anyone who noticed suspicious activity in the Castlehyde or Fermoy area in the past few days.