Documentary on One

The Ballad of Paddy Folen

A radio documentary that tells a story that on October 19th 2006 workmen discovered human bones in Horton Woods, near West Kingsdown in Kent, England - Police believe those remains to be those of Irishman Patrick Folen. (2007)

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4.2/5 (33 ratings)

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Documentary On One Podcast: An apocryphal tale of Irish emigration

Documentary Maker: Ciaran Cassidy

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The Ballad of Paddy Folen

The music in 'The Ballad of Patrick Folen' was commissioned from Mick Flannery - the award winning Cork singer/song writer. The music brings a resonance and voice to an apocryphal tale of Irish emigration.

Patrick Folen disappeared mysteriously in 1995. By the time, Patrick's remains were identified, he had lain undiscovered for over eleven years.

According to police, Folen was in his mid 70's when he disappeared and was well known and liked by the local community. They believe he slept in the woods surrounding West Kingsdown for over fifty years.

There was legend and myth that surrounds Patrick's background. Some locals told stories that his wife and children had been killed during the blitz of World War II and he had swore to never sleep indoors again. Others said he was a fluent Irish speaker lost in a country unable to communicate. Some said that he had been abandoned by him family when sixteen outside the Ford motor works in Dagenham. The police after a thorough investigation lasting a number of months admitted they were no closer to discovering the truth about Patrick's background.

In 'The Ballad of Patrick Folen' Ciaran Cassidy travels to West Kingsdown to Patrick Folen's cremation and the scattering of his ashes. There Ciaran meets Sarah Clarke who discovered Patrick Folen's remains in the woods; DCI Martin Harris and DC Gavin Mortley who led the police investigation and Sue Blacker, Eileen O'Sullivan and Kathy Smith who knew and befriended Patrick Folen.

After returning to Ireland - Ciaran Cassidy mailed over three hundred letters to every Folen in the phonebook - asking - did anybody in your family by the name of Patrick Folan emigrate to London between 1920 and 1950 and disappear.

The results were startling - with three separate families coming forward saying a Patrick Folen in their family had disappeared after emigrating and two of those families believing that the Patrick discovered in the woods in West Kingsodwn could be a family member.

This documentary was made in conjunction with the EBU Masterschool

Produced by Ciaran Cassidy

Production Supervision by Lisbeth Jessen

For more information on Mick Flannery who composed and performed the music in 'The Ballad of Paddy Folen' click here

First broadcast RTÉ Radio 1 in 2007

Rebroadcast RTÉ Radio 1, Bank Holiday Monday 18th of March 2019

An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland - Documentary on One - the home of Irish radio documentaries

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