Lord of the Manse
03/21/2011 at 01:00 AM EDT
The man owns a castle. He's got a Roman spa, two dozen fireplaces and a private driving range on his property. And he employs a staff of 25 to keep it all running smoothly. But when Michael Flatley invites a guest to CastleHyde, his massive villa in the Irish countryside, there's only one place to find the man of the house: behind the bar, pulling a perfect Guinness. "Whenever we have parties, I always bartend myself" says the dance legend. "That way I get to say hello to everyone."
And it's no problem to throw parties for 500 at his County Cork home, an 18th-century mansion that has cost the Lord of the Dance an estimated $70 million to restore from near-ruins. "I fell in love with it the first time I saw it," says Flatley, 52, who shares CastleHyde with wife Niamh, 36, and their 3-year-old son Michael St. James. But this level of luxury is not lost on the dancer, who's reportedly worth upwards of $600 million (he won't confirm a figure because "it would be in really poor taste"). Born in Chicago to Irish immigrants, he's been building his Irish dance empire since the early '90s with his show Riverdance, live tours that regularly sell out stadiums, and most recently, filming Lord of the Dance 3D, which hits movie theaters on March 17 (yes, St. Patrick's Day). "I was broke until I was 35," he says. "I believe that if you work hard, then you can enjoy yourself and spoil the ones you love."
Built circa 1745 and once occupied by the first president of Ireland, CastleHyde measures 40,000 sq. ft. on 250 acres of land. Flatley converted the original 29 bedrooms into 16 themed suites, including the Imperial Suite with paintings of Napoleon, plus rooms like the African billiard room, a whiskey room and a pair of wine cellars (one for reds, one for whites). Life in a castle also has its perks for "Little Mikey," who loves racing his tricycle down the football field-length hallway. But amid all the splendor, Flatley says his favorite memory in the castle is also one of the simplest. After his 50th birthday party, "when everyone was going to bed, I went down to the bar with my dad and drank pints until the sun came up," he says with a smile. "That was heaven."