Michael Flatley has danced for the last time in Ireland in the location where it all began for him, the former Point Depot, now the 3Arena, in Dublin where his breakout “Lord of the Dance” began. He finished with his sequel “Dangerous Games.”
It has been a tough stretch for the 56-year-old Chicago-born legend, with his last dance in Ireland and the death of his beloved father, Michael Flatley Senior, who passed at age 88 and was buried in Ireland on last Wednesday.
His two sold-out performances at the weekend were his way of saying farewell to his dad and his own Irish dance legend.
"It all started for me in the old Point Depot (now the 3Arena). So it was very much a question of bringing it all back home after 20 years," he told the Irish Independent.
"I guess if you are going to say goodbye, then I couldn't have asked for a better time and venue. The 3Arena or O2 will always be the Point Depot for me - it is where it all began for me. It is such a special place to me.
"I owe everything really to Irish audiences, to the Point and to the late Jim Aiken, who showed faith in me by booking my first show."
"The time (to retire) was right. My body is wrecked from all the dancing and training."My mind is writing checks that my legs just won't cash anymore.
"But this old body of mine has had enough. It has been bruised and battered from all those years of dancing at the highest level.”
His Dad, who died of heart failure, had expressed a wish to be buried in his beloved Ireland and so he was, in County Carlow.
Michael left his father’s funeral to prepare for his last Irish appearance. He had hoped his father and his son Michael Junior, now eight, would both be present for his Irish farewell, but it was not to be
At his Dad's funeral, which took place in his mother's home county, he stated, “My mom (Eilish) has been a pillar and strength through all of this. I loved my father, he was my hero. He was a strong Irishman, proud and driven.
“He was a bit of a workaholic and he worked seven days a week, Saturdays and Sundays included. All the holidays I can remember I was working too, along with my mom. She answered three phones as she ran the family business and she raised five kids. My parents just did what they had to do and they just got it done.”
He said having his dad stay with him in Castlehyde, his North Cork mansion, was a special treat.
“It made him very happy that I moved to Ireland. Some of my family memories are with my dad watching matches, drinking, laughing, and telling jokes in Castlehyde when he came to visit. Castlehyde will never be the same again.
“He loved everybody and he would just kiss everybody when he met them. He lived with dignity and he died with dignity.
“My last vision of my father was when I was leaving to get on a plane from [Chicago] after he died a couple of weeks ago. He was lying in his beautiful bed, and his beautiful Carlow bride of 60 years was combing his hair and whispering in his ear. He had a look on his face saying that he was already in heaven.
His tough weekend notwithstanding, Flatley was counting his blessings. "I have had an incredible career, an incredible journey and I just wanted to say 'thanks' to people for everything over the past 20 years or so. I have been truly blessed."
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