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Darragh McManus on radio: This true-crime tale is far stranger than fiction could be



Mattie McGrath Photo: Frank McGrath

Mattie McGrath Photo: Frank McGrath

Mattie McGrath Photo: Frank McGrath

True-crime podcasts are going like gangbusters, pardon the expression, over the past few years. Serial, a bona-fide phenomenon, is the most famous, but there are several others, including West Cork, which revisited the Sophie Toscan du Plantier case.

The Nobody Zone is an interesting addition. A six-part series co-produced by RTÉ and Third Ear in Denmark, it tells the weirder-than-fiction story of Kieran Kelly, a homeless man from Laois who confessed to multiple murders.

Arrested in London for stealing a ring, Kelly killed another man in his cell. Police were then stunned when he claimed to have committed a dozen murders over 30 years, pushing people off the Tube tracks.

Amazingly, Kelly was never convicted; The Nobody Zone asks why. It tells this fantastical tale in great style, accentuated by an evocative soundtrack and unobtrusive narration, both by Tim Hinman.

And they've pushed the boat out in terms of listener experience. The podcast, uploaded every Tuesday morning, is available in five languages (English, Danish, Spanish, German and Irish). There are also video versions on RTÉ Player and YouTube.

TD Mattie McGrath was on The Hard Shoulder (Newstalk, Mon-Fri 4pm), arguing that Seachtain na Gaeilge should be expanded to three times its size. Ivan Yates did his usual annoying thing of pretending to know nothing about the language.

He asked, quasi-perplexed, "What's that?" about Seachtain na Gaeilge, and acted like he didn't know how "póg mo thóin" was pronounced. But methinks he doth protest too much.

The man grew up here; he must have a few basics, same as everyone. I realise Ivan's role is as a full-time contrarian, but the Irish-bashing - "bad enough having to watch Nuacht every night" - is getting boring.

Anyway, Mattie believes "there's a certain residue of Irish in all of us" and we should be using it more, encouraging kids to speak it, and treasuring this unique heritage.

We'll only miss Irish when it's gone, he added. Very true, and then it'll be all "ochón, ochón". (Ivan, that roughly translates as "Alas/oh woe is me". You're welcome.)

Irish culture of a slightly different stripe was explored by stand-in Oliver Callan on Ryan Tubridy (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 9am). The magnificently named Turtle Bunbury was promoting the latest of his excellent social history books, Ireland's Forgotten Past, which looks back at some of those fascinating little moments which time and tides have now lost.

The book sounds utterly charming, and their chat was informative and often amusing - particularly when Turtle explained the name. It's a corruption of Tertius… but that's not his name either. Alexander was the third child of his Latin-speaking dad, hence Tertius, hence Turtle.

Indo Review