Michael Flatley's Support of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund
Although Michael Flatley has retired from dancing on tour with his shows since July of 2001, he has twice returned to the stage in spectacular "one-off" performances, the first on May 31, 2003 in St. Peterburg, Russia at the invitation of President Vladimir Putin. There he performed before over 40 heads of state gathered for the 300th anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg, a most auspicious occasion. A few weeks ago, on August 8, 2003, he delighted the glittering audience at the Red Cross Charity Gala in Monaco, where he and his troupe performed at the invitation of Prince Albert. Click here for our Celtic Cafe feature and fantastic photos of that amazing night in Monte Carlo with the Grimaldi royal family.
On Wednesday, September 10, Michael and Lisa Murphy met with the Honourable Nelson Mandela, and he pledged to perform for yet another most worthy cause, the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, on March 15, 2004, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The former South African president and Nobel Laureate has agreed to attend the party of the decade, the official re-opening celebrations of Michael's historic Castlehyde House in North Cork, Ireland, after renovations are completed this autumn. According to the Evening Herald, Michael said, "Nelson Mandela has been a hero of mine all my life and it was the least I could do to donate our opening night's proceeds to his Foundation to support its work with underpriviliged children."
But the Lord of the Dance was left speechless when the former South African leader demanded that he personally dance in the opening night show on March 15 next in the Nelson Mandela Theatre. "I tried to explain to Mr. Mandela that I don't really dance in the shows any more but he stunned me when he said that if I dance for him in Johannesburg, he will come to the grand opening of Castlehyde later this year," Michael explained.
"How could I refuse an offer like that? It's one of the greatest honours I've ever received. So I agreed to perform in one of the opening numbers next March, all going well. But I don't think I'll dance the entire show."
His newly-formed Troupe 4 has dates scheduled from March 16 through May 9, starting in Johannesburg and continuing on to Capetown, Port Elizabeth and Durban. Click here for the Celtic Cafe tour dates.
Castlehyde was owned by the first president of Ireland, Douglas Hyde, who as the founder in 1893, and first president of the Gaelic League, helped to revive not only the Irish language, but also encouraged a rebirth of Irish dance and other aspects of Irish culture. Douglas Hyde was also an adjudicator for Irish dance competitions, so it seems rather serendipitous that Castlehyde is now in the hands of the world's most famous Irish dancer.
Built in 1760, the house will be Michael's "dream home," and one of Europe's greatest period homes. Michael purchased Castlehyde for a reported 3 million pounds, and the extensive renovations, furnishings, acquisitions of art treasures and the like are said to total about 50 million euros.
That lifestyle, earned through his talent, genius, hard work and show business "savvy," is a far cry from the scenes of poverty Michael witnessed in Tanzania where he spent several weeks, and that of the Children's Fund and World Vision Aid projects he visited this weekend -- which included meeting children living with AIDS. Michael was profoundly moved, and pledged to help support the work of those organizations. That support, beyond the financial aspect, will do much to help gain further awareness of the work being done, and will no doubt help draw in even more supporters as they learn about the critical needs of those children and youth in Africa, and pledge to do their share.
Michael's public support will cause many eyes and hearts to be opened on behalf of the children.
THE BIRTH OF THE MANDELA CHILDREN'S FUND
The organization's Web presence can be found at NelsonMandelaChildrensFund.com, where one can learn about their goal of "Changing the way that society treats its children." The following is excerpted from their site:
"One night, just before the country's first democratic elections, I was leaving an exclusive Cape Town hotel where I had attended a meeting, when a group of children ran up to my car.
"It was freezing, and yet they were scantily dressed. These children were part of that phenomenon we call "street kids". Labelling them like this makes them seem like just another element of a wider problem that we don't have to think about specifically. That night I could have given them some money and, with my conscience eased, gone home to a good night's rest. I talked to them for a while trying to find out where they came from and where their parents were. I had a sleepless night, tossing and turning.
"I kept on seeing their faces, so young and yet already so old because of life on the streets. I knew that it was not good enough to say that their problems would be solved along with the problems of the entire country. They were innocent of our history, why did they have to bear its burden in equal measure with the adults?
"That is when I conceived the idea of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, dedicated to the needs and aspirations of our youth."
Mr. Nelson Mandela
Founder and Chairperson
Nelson Mandela Children's Fund
On 16th June 1994, the South African Youth Day, the then-President Mandela pledged one-third of his salary for the improvement of the quality of life of South Africa's deprived children.
This R150 000 annual pledge was the impetus for the establishment of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.
Feature: Bernadette Price
Original Web Design: Alexander Servas
Changing the Way That Society Treats Its Children
Sept. 10, 2003
Prince Albert, Lisa Murphy, Michael, Princess Caroline and Prince Rainier
Red Cross Gala August 8, 2003
Click here for a full feature and photos
Michael and President Putin at St. Petersburg's 300th anniversary celebration.
May 31, 2003
Renovations at Castlehyde, almost complete.