Flatley to sell his dream mansion Castlehyde
Lord of the Dance did jigs and reels to rebuild Castlehyde
Lord of the Dance Michael Flatley is to sell the 18th-century Irish mansion he hailed as his "dream home".
Castlehyde House in north Cork will now prove one of the landmark property sales in Europe this year.
It is expected to be offered in the region of €20m to €30m. The Chicago-born dancer stressed that the magnificent house and estate deserved someone able to spend far more time living there than just a few weeks every year.
"We took the decision to sell Castlehyde but that doesn't mean that I will be leaving Ireland. I love Ireland with all my heart and I always will," he told the Sunday Independent.
"But my work commitments are increasingly keeping me in London and in other parts of the world.
"The show (Lord of the Dance - Dangerous Games) opened in Bulgaria last week and we have major tour commitments coming up in the United States and Australia.
"It simply wasn't an option going forward to have this beautiful house and yet be only able to spend a couple of weeks there every year. It wasn't right and it wasn't feasible."
The sale will be handled by Irish and UK agents - with the bidders expected to include wealthy UK, American, German, Russian and Middle Eastern interests.
The sale is expected to be boosted by the strength of sterling and the US dollar against the euro, which has made Irish property acquisitions extremely attractive for overseas buyers.
The dancer admitted it was a difficult decision to make for himself and his wife, Niamh, because of the cherished memories Castlehyde holds for both of them.
"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."
The dancer's Christmas parties became the stuff of legend and people would drive from 80km away just to gaze at the Yuletide decorations on Castlehyde's giant wrought-iron gates.
Michael and his wife also regularly used Castlehyde to support Irish charities, ranging from those working with disadvantaged children to events in aid of St Patrick's Hospital in Fermoy.
He purchased the house in a near-derelict condition in 2001 for €3m and then spent more than €27m returning it to its 18th-century splendour.
The dancer rushed through the purchase of the property 15 years ago after Castlehyde had been linked to a host of celebrity buyers, including actors Tom Cruise and Hugh Grant.
Ten years ago, the star turned down a 'name your price' offer for the estate from 'King of Pop' Michael Jackson, who spotted Castlehyde as he flew overhead in a helicopter during an Irish holiday with his children.
Castlehyde is one of the finest remaining examples of the 'great houses' built along the banks of the River Blackwater in the 18th Century by the aristocracy which had dubbed the waterway "the Irish Rhine".