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I chased gang in my sports car - Flatley

MICHAEL Flatley used his sports car to chase a gang who broke into his north Cork mansion to steal valuables and an African rhino horn.

The Chicago-born Lord of the Dance, who is also a former Golden Gloves boxer, raced after the raiders in a vain bid to track them until they could be intercepted by gardai.

The dancer checked that his wife, Niamh, and son, Michael Jnr, were safe before he went after the criminals.

But by the time he had reached the Castlehyde gateway on the Fermoy-Mallow road, the gang had vanished into a maze of smaller roads.

"I don't really want to say much because the gardai are examining the house" Mr Flatley said. "I don't want to interfere with their investigation.

"But I will say that the gardai have been absolutely fantastic. They were here within minutes of the alarm being raised. In fact, I couldn't believe how fast they had arrived."

Mr Flatley stressed he was relieved his family and Castlehyde employees were unhurt.

"I'm going to let the gardai do their job," he added. "They have been absolutely great and I have every faith in them."

Limerick-based criminals are being treated as the main suspects in the raid on the 18th Century Castlehyde House.

Gardai are convinced that the robbery at 6pm on Monday was not a random burglary, but rather the work of a gang from Rathkeale that was also responsible for the theft of four rhino heads from the National Museum last year.

The criminals were disturbed by Mr Flatley after he went to investigate a loud noise, but they still managed to flee with an African rhino horn that they had ripped off a display.

Gardai and employees are now checking the inventory of valuables and artworks to see if anything else is missing.

Rhino horns can be worth more than €200,000 on the Asian black market, where they are used in traditional medicine. Horn powder is now worth more by weight than gold.

The dancer was playing computer games with his son, Michael Jnr and his wife, Niamh, when he heard a suspicious sound coming from one of the wings of his mansion.