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FLATLEY: MY JOYCE GIFTS TO IRELAND; Star displays auction buys.

Byline: DONNA CARTON

DANCE king Michael Flatley's new James Joyce collection was bought as gift to the people of Ireland.

He plans to put the Irish writer's memorabilia on display at his home in Castlehyde, Co Cork.

The Lord Of The Dance star told pals he bought the items at Sotheby's to ensure the collection stays in Ireland.

One said: "Michael outbid foreign interest because he felt it was important these items did not go out of the country. His plan now is to put them on display to Irish academics at his Cork home."

Flatley's latest investment is expected go on display at the three-storey walnut-lined library of his 18th Century mansion in Castlehyde.

And the dancer, who plans to return to the stage on October 13 in America, wants to establish one of the "greatest collections of Irish literary works", outside of state or university libraries, at his mansion.

It will include the items he bought in London this week, including Joyce's gold spectacles, an early recording of the author, his priced cigarette case and medal awarded at the Feis Ceoil in 1904.

Flatley, also owns an edition of Ulysses valued at EUR300,000, didn't buy the explicit love letter from Joyce to Nora Barnacle, which was sold for e358,000. Meanwhile, the star returned to the dancefloor on Thursday night - strutting his stuff in a nightclub in the south of France.

He was with friends at St Tropez nightclub Les Caves Du Roy.

Celebrity guests including Gemma Kidd and former F1 driver Eddie Irvine were left gobsmacked as the world's most famous hoofer took to the floor again - with a sexy blonde known as Joy.

An onlooker said: "His friends were urging Michael to take to the floor. He was being really modest but in the end - and after a few glasses of champagne - he agreed. It was incredible."

Flatley retired from dancing three years ago - but can't wait to return to the spotlight.
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 11, 2004
Words:327
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