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West Cork

Author: yarn fm

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In West Cork, it’s simply known as ‘the murder’. In 1996 French film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier is found dead near her holiday home. There are no witnesses and no known motive. The police suspect one man in this community but they can’t make a charge stick and he refuses to leave, living under the glare of suspicion ever since. 


This series brings together an incredible cast of characters, many of whom have never spoken publicly before. The family of the victim bring to life a woman lost; the suspect puts forward his defence; and local people explain what it’s like to have the living embodiment of their unsettled nerves still resolutely among them. Reported and hosted by Jennifer Forde and Sam Bungey. 


To be first to listen to bonus episodes of West Cork and Sam and Jennifer's incredible next series, sign up at www.yarn.fm


  • “The hosts beautifully communicate how a tragedy can impact a town and its people in devastating ways.” Time magazine 
  • “Meticulous and thoughtful … The podcast is vastly more soulful than so many of its peers, in large part by functioning as an exploration of how a tragedy, mixed with spectacle, can redefine and consume the terms of a place, a person, and a time." Nick Quah, Vulture 
  • “One of the few podcasts that caused us to drive in pointless extra loops in total silence, just so we could hear another episode. West Cork is the new Serial. It may even be better.” India Knight, The Times 
  • "Knocked me out like no other podcast since S-Town. A masterpiece." Patrick Radden Keefe, author of Say Nothing 
13 Episodes
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1: Blow-ins

1: Blow-ins

2021-03-2929:2411

West Cork, Ireland is an outpost at the edge of Europe, the jumping-off point for America. Rugged windswept and coastal, it was a place of farmers and fisherman until the 1960’s, when it was discovered by the ‘blow-in’s.’ People who drove until the road ran out, artists and urban runaways – a haven for those ready to turn their backs on their old lives and start again. But then there was a murder in West Cork, and overnight, everything changed.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
2: The Back of Beyond

2: The Back of Beyond

2021-03-2928:285

A body is found at the end of a path leading to three houses. In West Cork, the police, known in Ireland as ‘the guards,’ have little experience with serious crime, and the victim—a French woman with a holiday home in the area—is a mysterious figure in West Cork. That night, as news of the murder snakes through the community, everyone begins to question whether or not they were ever, truly, safe.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
3: Sophie Buoniol

3: Sophie Buoniol

2021-03-2935:465

Sophie Buoniol, commonly referred to by her married name, Sophie Toscan du Plantier, was 39 years old when she was murdered, a well-connected French film producer. In a place where there had been no murder that anyone can remember, locals speculated that the murderer must have come from out of town. But West Cork grapples with which version of Sophie to believe. Rumors about Sophie and her love life, fueled by tabloid headlines, abound. But there was a quieter, more bookish side to her, a side better represented by the small, simple, white house she kept in West Cork. In this episode we get to know Sophie, from the perspective of those who loved her most.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
4: Killer Among Us

4: Killer Among Us

2021-03-2937:116

In the weeks following the murder, Schull, the jewel-box vacation town closest to Sophie’s home, becomes a very different kind of place to live. With no answers, and the police focusing on locals, the townspeople start watching their neighbors more closely. And the guards begin receiving anonymous calls about a ‘strange man’ in town.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
5: A Good Suspect

5: A Good Suspect

2021-03-2934:252

The guards have a suspect—one who has spent the last 20 years trying to convince Ireland that he is not a murderer. We begin on the first day of the investigation, tracing the suspects’ behavior over the six weeks following the murder, up until the day of his arrest. What was he up to, and how did he become the central figure in one of Ireland’s most notorious murder cases?  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
6: The Englishman

6: The Englishman

2021-03-2940:152

A blow-in from Manchester, England, the suspect has been grating on locals ever since he first arrived in West Cork. He has been accused of inserting himself into the investigation and delighting in his notoriety, at the expense of figuring out what really happened to Sophie. Though he is often perceived as arrogant and tactless, his history and personal diaries reveal deep insecurities, and a man increasingly desperate to save himself.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
7: The Arrest

7: The Arrest

2021-03-2938:523

On February 10th, 1997, the guards make an arrest in a well-orchestrated plan to snare their chief suspect. There’s an interrogation, a question of coercion, and an alibi that doesn’t quite hold up—but no confession. The charge doesn’t stick, for now, but someone close to the suspect appears to waffle on his guilt.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
8: The Game Is On

8: The Game Is On

2021-03-2938:533

After the guards fail to get a confession, a game of cat and mouse ensues; the guards need more evidence, but worry that they are being outsmarted. In this episode, secret recordings of the guards give an insight into the lengths they were willing to go to ensnare their suspect—planting spies, using wires—to little success.   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
9: The Moonshine Effect

9: The Moonshine Effect

2021-03-2937:153

After the arrest is made public in West Cork, the town is terrified, convinced there is a murderer next-door. And yet, the suspect remains. It seems everyone has a theory, a story about the suspects’ strangeness, from the plausible to the absurd: that he is a sexual predator, he wanders the countryside alone, howling, driven to madness by the full moon. As it turns out, however, some if the craziest rumors were coming from an unlikely source: the suspect himself.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
10: Shanghaied

10: Shanghaied

2021-03-2943:483

Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s murder is big news in Ireland—so big that the suspect takes the newspapers to court for defamation, intending to clear his name with the public. But it backfires spectacularly when the newspapers round up angry locals to testify, air secret diaries, and reveal the suspects’ long history as a domestic abuser.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
11: Enemy #1

11: Enemy #1

2021-03-2935:332

After the defamation trial, no one understands why the suspect is still a free man. But the case against him is quickly unraveling; there’s a new, seasoned lawyer, trouble with a key witnesses’ story, and questions about the legitimacy of the guards’ investigation.   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
12: Loose Ends

12: Loose Ends

2021-03-2943:482

So if the guards’ chief suspect didn’t kill Sophie, who did? Theories abound: a ‘French Connection,’ a murderous horse, a misidentified man in a long black coat. There are promising leads that seem to have gone unpursued by the police, and the distinct impression that the case wasn’t nearly as strong as it originally seemed to be.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
While the case has reached a stalemate in Ireland, a parallel investigation in France--pushed along by Sophie’s family--is moving forward. The suspect finds himself confronted with new charges, the community grapples with the case, and Sophie’s son, just 15 when his mother was murdered, shares a pint in his mother’s favourite pub in West Cork with the last known person who saw her alive.   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Comments (1)

Julie Danz

This is a brilliant podcast.

Apr 7th
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