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23-02-01 news EXCLUSIVE PAUL MARTIN
Flatley, Lord of the Plants!...

Lord of the plants Michael Flatley last night hit back at reports that he was destroying the environment in his Castle Hyde residence. Local residents have been infuriated by reports that multimillionaire Flatley has been ripping up old plants and trees in both the castle and the gardens of his in Cork. But last night a close friend of the Lord of the Dance and Feet of Flames star contacted the Irish Mirror to set the record straight.

"Michael is really upset by this and he wants to make it clear that he is doing no such thing," said the source. "He has become increasingly aware of accusations that he is ruining the natural environment around his house. It's absolute rubbish and Michael wants people to know the truth - it's getting out of hand. There is no destruction of live shrubs, plants or trees taking place - only dead elements are being cut down. This is in order to replant the areas with healthy substitutes."

Irish-American Flatley is preparing for a permanent move to Castle Hyde with his Dublin girlfriend Lisa Murphy, in August. The star, 42, has spent over 100,000 on improvements to the castle in preparation for the move. And he has also hired top horticulturist, Pat Barclay, to conduct the re-development of the gardens.

"It's ridiculous to think that Michael would want to destroy nature - it sounds like a few people are intent on causing trouble," the pal added. "To be honest when Michael heard the stories her was really hurt because that place means a lot to him. He has hired the top guy in the business to make sure everything is done properly and there are no plants or trees removed that shouldn't be."

Flatley recently spent a month in the castle with Lisa Murphy on a romantic break. They enjoyed the visit so much that they announced they would be moving back permanently to start a new life together. He also has homes in France and London, but said he always felt happiest in Ireland.

"I just love the place and I've always regarded it as my real home. I want to settle down in Ireland for good. Castle Hyde is like a dream home for me and I fell in love with it the minute I saw it. That was the place I wanted to spend the rest of my life in."

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