Freedom of Cork city conferred on Michael Flatley


Lord of the Dance star Michael Flatley was declared a freeman of Cork city at a ceremony in Cork City Hall at the weekend.

Flatley arrived at City Hall shortly after 2.30pm accompanied by his wife, Niamh O'Brien. He was joined at the ceremony by his Irish-born parents, Michael snr and Eilis, and Niamh's mother, Monica O'Brien. It is understood Flatley's young son, Michael St James, who was born in April, was being cared for by relatives.

Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Michael Ahern, in conferring the Freedom of Cork on Flatley, said the Chicago-born entertainer had "reinvented" Irish dancing for the new millennium without losing any of the skill, tradition or heritage of the form.

In return the Riverdance star said it was a major honour to be granted the freedom of Cork city.

"Cork is the proud capital of the county which is now home to Niamh, Michael St James and myself. It is humbling to join such a distinguished list of freemen and I will carry the honour with pride. I am grateful to Lord Mayor Ahern, the city council and the people of Cork."

Cork-based poet Thomas McCarthy was commissioned to write a special poem for the new freeman in honour of the occasion. Mr McCarthy made special mention of the dancer's new son in the closing line of the poem.

More than 300 guests attended the ceremony including Ann O'Connor, a representative of one of Flatley's favourite causes, St Patrick's Community Hospital in Fermoy.

The decision to confer the freedom of the city on Flatley was made at a meeting of the city council earlier this year. The intention was put forward by Cllr Ahern and received the unanimous support of the council.