Elizabeth ‘Eilish’ Flatley dies; mother of famed Irish dancer
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Elizabeth “Eilish” Flatley, a resident of southwest suburban Frankfort who was mother of the world’s most famous Irish dancer, died Wednesday at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox. She was 81.
Her son Michael Flatley, who grew famous with “Riverdance,” and who gained immense wealth by creating extravaganzas including “Lord of the Dance,” said Thursday he credits his success to his mother and father.
Mrs. Flatley’s mother, Hannah Ryan, was a champion Irish dancer.
“We were blessed that my mother and my grandmother both carried on the tradition and gave us the opportunity to do something that is uniquely Irish,” Flatley said by telephone.
Born Elizabeth Ryan in County Carlow, Ireland, she met fellow Irish immigrant Michael Flatley Sr. at a dance in Detroit. They married and moved to Chicago.
In 1960 the Flatleys started a plumbing business, Flatley’s Plumbing Express, where Michael Flatley worked until gaining attention for his dancing.
“What a remarkable woman she was,” he said, noting that his mother answered the company’s phones in between raising five children. “We didn’t have nannies or housekeepers or babysitters. She did it all.”
Her husband died in 2015.
Visitation is from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at Sheehy & Sons Funeral Home, 9000 W. 151st St., Orland Park. Her funeral mass and burial are planned in Ireland, Michael Flatley said.