The Avondhu can exclusively reveal this week that Michael Flatley’s Castlehyde mansion has been bought by the Unification Church, more loosely known as ‘the Moonies’ – a nickname now little used.
It is understood the deal will be signed at Castlehyde this Friday when a delegation from the church’s US headquarters will meet with Mr Flatley’s legal team. They can however, on arrival at Castleyhde, expect to be met by a demonstration of local people who are opposed to the purchase.
The cult seems to have a fondness for the general Fermoy area, having purchased Kilmurry House as a training centre in the mid 1970s following the setting up of the church in Ireland a few years earlier. They moved out of the area to Dublin and sold Kilmurry House in 1987.
When contacted, all Mr Flatley’s PR agent was prepared to say is that the deal will be ‘signed, sealed and delivered by 4pm this Friday’.
An insider who works with one of the service providers at Castlehyde, told The Avondhu that three people arrived on St Patrick’s Day. “Michael couldn’t be here as he was performing his final show in Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas that night. We were told to show them around. They were very nice – a Mr Johnson – an architect from the States; another gentleman representing the buyers and a lady, a Ms O’Brien who we suspect was a relation of Michael’s wife.”
He spoke of an ‘in-house joke’ about the three visitors. “One of the lads here is a bit of comic who gets on great with Michael. In fact they have become good friends. When he found out who the three people were, he sent Michael a text saying ‘Michael, the three arrived. They’ll buy alright. Sure with names like theirs why wouldn’t they – Johnson, ‘Moonie’ and O’Brien – like the Dublin bakers, they have the dough’. We thought it was hilarious,” he said.
The source also told us that the guy representing the buyers is a grandson of the present leader. “When they arrived in after viewing the grounds, they were having a meal and the guy representing the buyers told us he was a grandson of the present leader of the Unification Church. During the meal, he wrote the following poem, paraphrasing Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’ and showed it to us before emailing it to his grandfather:
“We wandered lonely as a cloud
And floated high o’er vales and hills,
Till we arrived at Castlehyde
And say the lovely daffodils.
Outside the gate,
Beneath the trees,
Dancing like Michael
In the breeze.
We thought ‘Grandad
Now’s your chance’
You can really be
Lord of the Dance.
And when you blow to flame
The golden cup,
You won’t see
One upset daffodil” – Sorreeee!”
“If Douglas Hyde were alive today, he would be turning in his grave at the news.”
News of the purchase has been met with mixed comment, the local business development group welcoming the deal.
“While we are sad to lose Michael Flatley from the area, it’s good to see the purchase going through. There are a lot of people employed at Castlehyde and it’s good to know their jobs are secure. I remember when these people were in Kilmurry House, they were into candlemaking, so who knows, there might be a few jobs there too,” a spokesperson said on Wednesday.
When approached for a comment, a well known community activist who insisted that we do not use his name, said: “If Douglas Hyde were alive today, he would be turning in his grave at the news.”
It is understood the deal was done through a Dublin-based auctioneering firm in conjunction with well know real estate firm in Detroit, the Fuhle family and that the sale price is ‘in or around’ the asking price of €20million. Two of the Fuhle family, twin brother and sister Furst and Aprille will be among the delegation on Friday.
Locals are asking for support for the demonstration on Friday. “We will be assembling at 11am as these people are flying into Shannon at 9.20 (am) so they are expected here sometime after eleven,” a caller to The Avondhu who simply described herself as ‘one of the organisers’. When asked what she had against the buyers, she said: “The bottom line is we don’t want the likes of The Moonies, the Hara Krishnas or The Screamers near the place. Look at what happened to Kilmurry House and the state it’s in now – and we thought Michael Flatley liked us,” she said, as she abruptly hung up on us.