Gardaí in Co Cork are searching for a gang who stole a rhino horn from the home of Lord of the Dance star Michael Flatley.

Mr Flatley and his family were in their Castlehyde home at the time and raised the alarm but the raiders fled.

The gang broke into Mr Flatley's 18th century Palladian castle at around 7pm yesterday.

They are believed to have been specifically targeting a rhino horn which was on display, after by-passing many other valuable items.

It is believed to have been cut off a stuffed rhino head, which was mounted in a safari room in the castle.

Rhino are a protected species across the world, but rhino horn is reported to be valued at up to €200,000 on the black market.

Rhino horn is prized in traditional Asian medicine despite having no medicinal qualities.

There is a serious health risk from arsenic used to preserve older specimens.

Mr Flatley and his family are understood to have been in another part of the mansion at the time of the robbery.

They raised the alarm when they heard the intruders apparently breaking glass.

The family are not believed to have come in contact with the raiders at any stage.

The raiders escaped before gardaí arrived.

It is believed that the rhino horn is the only item missing from the house.

Gardaí are appealing to anybody who saw anything suspicious in the area around Castlehyde to contact them.

CCTV is being recovered as part of the investigation.

Mr Flatley bought the estate, which overlooks the River Blackwater, around 15 years ago and oversaw the restoration of Castlehyde before making it his family home.

The project is believed to have cost tens of millions of euro.