Spoiler Alert! This review contains spoilers. So if you haven’t listened to West Cork yet and are intending to do so - stop reading now!
Several weeks back we received correspondence at The Southern Star about the wording in one of my West Cork podcast reviews.
The offending line was a reference to Ian Bailey being a fantasist.
I lazily wrote that Bailey had ‘often’ been referred to as a fantasist without citing even one of the supposed ‘many’ who labelled him as such.
Thankfully though, my prayers were answered recently, when none other than iconic Irish singer Sinead O’Connor provided me with all the ammo I needed to throw flippant, lazy, labels about.
Last Wednesday week, O’Connor was snapped with Bailey in Glengarriff.
The photo, rather predictably, set off a social media storm and an online frenzy.
Bailey was interviewed by the (other) Star and quoted saying he had been discussing turning his poetry into music with Sinead during their mysterious meeting.
It didn’t take O’Connor long to retort though, taking to Twitter to set the record straight.
‘Bailey lying his face off in the Star today,’ she wrote.
‘Saying we were discussing putting his poems to music. NEVER happened.’
I wasn’t invited to their lunch meeting unfortunately so I can't say for certain who was telling the truth but if I can only believe one of them I know which way I’m leaning.
Further fuel for my fantasist fire was provided by the venerable Fintan O’Toole writing in the paper of record just last week.
In the opening paragraph of his latest Irish Times piece on Bailey, O’Toole refers to him as a ‘narcissistic fantasist,’ giving me yet another example to use the next time I decide to write about the ‘many’ who have labelled Bailey as such.
For what it’s worth, I found O’Connor’s follow-up piece in the Sunday Independent to be an excellent read and felt it was one of the most insightful portraits of Bailey produced in recent months, despite certain people questioning the ethics of interviewing someone when drunk.
Imagine if journalists started breathalysing every subject they were set to interview. Hot Press would have shuttered its doors decades ago.
Now back to the reviews!
West Cork podcast review - Episode 9: The Moonshine Effect
We're introduced to Episode 9: The Moonshine Effect by the voice of Ian Bailey.
He's holding court with Jennifer, Sam and Jules at the Prairie, in a scene much like, I suspect, the informal briefings he hosted for the international press in the early days of the investigation into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.
Bailey's position as a regular on the West Cork market scene is detailed.
This is the Ian Bailey I first encountered in person, as a frequent attendee of the Skibbereen Farmers' Market.
Though I never spoke with him, his pitch was one of the most central on offer.
His presence there, I'd wager, was a drawing card the market committee could have utilised to boost attendance if they had ever decided to engage in an historically cynical marketing campaign.
With murder tourism seemingly on the rise I wouldn't rule it out.
Bailey's decision to remain in West Cork despite everything that's gone on is questioned by house painter Tom Quinn.
'Why are you still here,' he says. 'Why don't you just fuck off?'
This attitude amongst locals is not lost on Bailey who refers to himself from the perspective of said locals as: 'that big fucking English bollocks,' adding credence to Tom Quinn's question.
If that's how your neighbours feel about you, why would you stay?
The failure by Gardaí to secure a prosecution, which is covered in episode eight, has far-reaching effects within the West Cork community.
Claire Wilkinson, a friend of Bailey's at the time of the murder explains how she was ostracised locally for the company she kept.
Bailey's reported penchant for gangbangs, mutli-sex 'happenings' and supposed pogo-sticking were put to Claire by Gardaí as reasons he was best-avoided.
Further curiosities like donning a skirt at home and the destruction of religious artefacts were also deemed worthy of space in national newspapers, adding to the folklore that was fast-developing around the self-confessed prime suspect.
His reported fondness for howling at the moon in a werewolf-like fashion is also explored here.
Episode 9: The Moonshine Effect deals with the myth-making surrounding Bailey, the supposed lunar madness he was affected by and his ten dancing lesbians
It also delves in to the utter hysteria that has hung over this case for the last 25 years.
There's amateur sleuth Billy Fuller going in search of Bailey's mysterious staff, the curious case of Richard and Rosie Shelley and the more grounded theory that Sophie's killer may have been known to her.
It's these rumours and tales that have turned this murder case into the international money-making racket it has become, especially in recent weeks.
Our review of Episode 10: Shanghaied will be available here soon.
If you’d like to get in touch with your own observations, theories or concerns about the West Cork Podcast you can email us at [email protected] or contact me directly on Twitter or Instagram @jayburgkk.
Read the review of Episode 8: The Game Is On.