EP2017: Ian Bailey launches poetry collection

The collection of poetry existed in “embryonic form” before the accusations in the 1990s

Ian Bailey launching his book of poetry in the Hot Press tent at Electric Picnic Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish times

Ian Bailey launching his book of poetry in the Hot Press tent at Electric Picnic Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish times

 

The strangest event at this year’s Electric Picnic so far was the launch at the Hot Press Chat Room of a book of poetry, The West Cork Way, by Ian Bailey.

In 1997, he was arrested for the murder of French film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier. He was never charged and has always maintained his innocence. This year, French authorities again attempted to have Bailey extradited to face trial over the death of Toscan du Plantier. In July, the Irish High Court refused the request.

At Electric Picnic, depending on what you believe, this event was either Hot Press giving a break to the victim of a miscarriage of justice or it was giving a platform to someone linked to one of the most high profile crimes in Ireland. Interviewer Olaf Tyaransen clearly believes the former scenario and contextualised the murder investigation among other Garda scandals that have come to light in recent decades.

He asked Bailey for his memories of being accused of murder and Bailey discussed his life before, during and since (including a stint studying law at UCC). He still maintains that he had never met Sophie Toscan du Plantier. He described this period in his life as “very dark” and said that he had, at one point, attempted suicide.

This collection of poetry existed in “embryonic form” before the accusations in the 1990s, he said, but later he revealed that he is currently writing a second collection that will touch on the more controversial events of his life since. Tyaransen briefly asked about Bailey’s domestic abuse of his partner in the 1990s. Bailey referred to this as his “eternal shame”.

The tent was full but, notably, the only questions seemed to come from people who work with media organisations. A TV3 employee asked if Bailey would meet with the Toscan du Plantier family and he said he would if asked.

By the time Bailey retreated outside to sign copies of his book, he had read three poems. One was a satirical poem about an idiotic politician. Another was about sitting in a bar fantasising about a teenage barmaid. And a third included the lines “A thousand arrows they fired at him yet failed to kill the poet within.”

Later, he paraphrased Nietzsche: “If it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger,” before adding, “I’ve probably been made stronger than I ever wanted to be.”

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