Lord of the Dance star Michael Flatley named as Grand Marshal for Cork's St Patrick's Day parade
Lord of the Dance Michael Flatley will serve as Grand Marshal of Cork's St Patrick's Day parade.
The star said he was "absolutely thrilled" to be asked to participate in the parade which is the centrepiece of Cork's three day St Patrick's Festival.
"I am truly honoured to be chosen as Grand Marshal of the Cork St. Patrick’s Day Parade, a county my family and I now call home," he said.
"The parade is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate Irish culture and I’m looking forward to meeting musicians, Irish dancers and artistic groups from all over Cork and Ireland. "
"I am really proud of Cork, it’s a thriving city with so much to offer residents and tourists alike.”
The Chicago-born dancer whose famous shows include 'Lord of the Dance', 'Feet of Flames' and 'Riverdance', lives in Castlehyde Estate outside Fermoy in north Cork.
He bought the near-derelict house for Euro3m over a decade ago and then spent over Euro30m restoring the house and returning it to its 18th Century glory.
However, the star's home was the focus of major drama last January when a criminal gang broke in while he was home with his wife, Niamh, and son, Michael Jnr.
The thieves fled having only managed to steal a rhino horn.
They were disturbed when the star went to investigate a noise coming from the western end of the mansion.
The dancer - a former golden gloves boxer - bravely chased the thieves who managed to escape along a maze of north Cork roads.
Mr Flatley's involvement in the St Patrick's Day festival which runs from March 15-17 is just the latest in his long commitment to promoting arts, culture and tourism in Ireland.
Last year, he was judged to be one of the Top 50 Most Influential Irish Americans.
Along with Cork's Lord Mayor Cllr Catherine Clancy (Lab), the dancer will now lead the parade from the South Mall to the Grand Parade, along St. Patrick’s Street, finishing at Merchant’s Quay.
“We are thrilled to celebrate our national holiday with Michael Flatley," Cllr Clancy said.
"He was chosen for his outstanding contribution to entertainment in Ireland and Cork, and for promoting Irish culture internationally. The theme for this year’s parade is ‘Legends’ and Mr. Flatley certainly fits the bill. He is a true ambassador for our City”.
The organisers hope that over 100,000 people will visit Cork over the course of the festival which also features street entertainment, special concerts and an Irish good food fair featuring over 50 artisan producers.