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Thieves target Flatley mansion

GARDAI believe the gang behind the raid on Lord of the Dance star Michael Flatley's home were also responsible for the theft of rhino heads from the National Muesum last year.

Valuables and an African rhino horn worth up to €400,000 were stolen by the four-man gang from the dancer's 18th Century Castlehyde House last night.

The burglars fled after being accidentally disturbed by the dancer at the sprawling north Cork property.

Gardai are now convinced that the robbery at 6pm was not a random burglary but the work of the Rathkeale-based gang who are also believed to be responsible for the theft of four rhino heads from the National Museum last year.

Rhino horns can be worth over €250,000 on the Asian black market where they are used for traditional medicines.

The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) targeted the Limerick gang in a series of raids last September but they are understood to be still operating.

The dancer was uninjured but said to be shocked.

The Chicago-born star was playing computer games with his son, Michael Jnr, and wife, Niamh, when he heard a noise from one wing of his mansion.

When he went to investigate, he was shocked to see dark-clothed figures running away across the lawn and driveway.

A car then speed off towards the main Fermoy-Mallow road.

The dancer ran back to the house to check on his family and discovered that his safari room had been raided.

The alarm was raised and Gardai and armed detectives were at the scene in minutes.

The dancer had disturbed the thieves before they had a chance to take other valuables.



The thieves are believed to have maintained surveillance on the property for some time.

However, they mistakenly thought the house was unoccupied but the star and his family had returned at short notice from their London base.

Detectives said the gang decided to press ahead with the robbery despite the obvious fact Castlehyde was occupied.