I had an interesting conversation last night.  I had been out with friends at the Mont Clare Hotel on Merrion Square in Dublin but had to do a radio interview with Near FM. The folks at reception very kindly allowed me to take the call at the porters desk and everything went off swimmingly.

I was talking for around half an hour…I don’t think I let Pat, the presenter much of a look in, but Devil got a good plug.

It was only afterwards when I got talking to the girl on reception that another trial I have talked about here came up.  No matter what I talk about, the Finn Colclough trial keeps coming back into the frame.

Anyway it turned out that she had known the victim in that trial, Sean Nolan.  Obviously covering a high profile trial where there are a lot of press, there’s not really an opportunity to talk to the people involved…not that they’d want to anyway while the trial is going on.

We were talking about the trial and the eventual manslaughter verdict.  It was interesting to talk to someone with a personal involvement.  It’s easy to be too glib about these things when you cover them as a news story.  If we didn’t have the remove we wouldn’t be able to do our jobs but it does mean you can have too much of a remove sometimes.

I can totally understand how hard it was for the Nolan family to accept the manslaughter verdict.  Even if I might think myself that, given the evidence in the trial it was probably the only verdict the jury were likely to return, for them it’s never going to be any less raw than it was the day they heard the news.

I can’t imagine how any mother could deal with the loss that Charlotte Nolan has had to deal with, the loss of her younger son on the night he finished secondary school.  That’s something you can never forget and that will never get any easier to come to terms with.

It’s always interesting to meet someone who’s been personally touched by a story I’ve written about. Because no matter how much I might empathise, no matter how much compassion I might have the the victim or the accused, I’m always going to be at a remove, standing on the outside of the case observing it as it unfolds.

That’s just the nature of the job, but I can understand that others see the remove as unnatural or perverse in some way.  I might want to understand, to feel something to understand it better, but that will always be from a writer’s point of view and that means being on the outside.

I can see by the number of people who read my coverage of the Colclough trial, how raw a nerve this trial has struck.  It’s understandable, even if I might sometimes wish that more came looking for the book than for Finn Colclough and Sean Nolan.  There was something about that trial that made it different, it’s rare to see such a stark tragedy even amongst the daily litany of tragedies that makes up the day to day business of the Central Criminal Court.

I’m not sure how much I’ll be blogging next week.  I’m off down to Ennis again at the start of the week and I might be out of coverage.  More signings and interviews though…the book needs to be sold!