I HAVE been fascinated with Tony Quinn for a long time. The one-time butcher turned yoga teacher, turned life coach, turned oil baron, has been a source of intrigue, investigation and awe ever since I tried to make a programme about him for the RTE documentary series Would You Believe.
He is in the news again because of his association with a group of people finding oil in Belize. They had all been to one of his courses, and they got together to make their millions.
After raising money from investors, they struck oil in the Central American country, and did so using a combination of minimal technology and, allegedly, maximum mind techniques learned from Quinn.
I first decided to do some research into the multi-millionaire Quinn when I read how much people were willing to pay to go on one of his courses. Figures ranged from €10,000 to €50,000. And for that, people swore that their lives were changed.
I spoke to people who had been on the course and who told me that it was worth every penny. I also spoke to people who told me the devastating effect of getting involved in Tony Quinn's world. People who had taken out loans, inappropriately, to head off to the Bahamas.
People who were getting sucked into a mindset that pulled them away from their families, their commitments and their lives as they had known them.
For every person who was thrilled with the Quinn courses there was one who felt they were left psychologically and financially damaged.
Every time I got close to getting a programme together, people would pull out. Men and women who had been to the courses in Ireland and abroad were too frightened to talk about their experiences.
They felt a range of emotions when they spoke about their time with Tony Quinn. Humiliation for putting their families through hell, and guilt for spending so much money on the course.
I remember one of the men who at first wanted to be involved in the documentary, explained the power of Tony Quinn. I had been finding it hard to pinpoint how Quinn had become such a powerful guru, and wondered what exactly he was doing that was so right for some people, and so wrong for others.
Initially, he told me, Tony Quinn makes you feel on top of the world. His talks, his message, his advice, make you feel stronger, happier, like nothing you have experienced.
Your mind is at a very particular place, a place that he brings you to with ease and confidence. Once you try to leave that place, you become vulnerable, weak and frightened.
After a second attempt to make a programme on Quinn, I gave up.
No one wanted to talk.
Then a year later, around two years ago, I got a phone call out of the blue. Someone rang me in RTE. A woman. She didn't want to tell me her name, she said she was living in London.
She told me that I shouldn't give up on making the documentary. She wouldn't leave me her number, but she told me, again, not to give up. I can't describe the feeling I had talking to this woman, but it was the creepiest phone call I had ever received.
Every now and again I look up Tony to see what he is up to. It's oil at the moment. Who knows what next. He is captivating, enigmatic... intimidating.
If I could have one wish, it would be to meet him, interview him, spend some time with him, film him.
But he never wants to take my calls.
Maybe after reading this, he might just. Come on Tony, give me a call.