Irish Podcast Awards 2023: Best documentary podcast

Podcasts are uniquely suited to long-form investigative storytelling, thanks to their immersive nature, and podcasting has allowed the documentary format to flourish. Many shocking scandals and bizarre incidents have been unearthed through podcasts, and this category’s winners are outstanding examples of how the audio medium can support gripping and vital journalism.

Winner: Documentary on One: Blackrock Boys

Blackrock Boys is a documentary that shook the Irish establishment to its core. The podcast covered the story of Mark and David Ryan who revealed their teenage sexual abuse at the hands of the Spiritans (then known as the Holy Ghost Order) at the prestigious fee-paying Blackrock College in the 1970s and 80s.

A shocking and moving podcast in its own right, the programme was instantly influential as hundreds of new victims came forward with their stories in the days that followed. Within three days of broadcast, a Garda investigation was launched into Spiritan-run schools across Ireland, with prosecutions likely to follow.

But its influence didn’t end there. Within two weeks of broadcast, the Irish government committed to holding a state inquiry into historic sexual abuses at schools run by religious orders in the country. Given this encompasses millions of people who attended religious-run schools, it will become the largest state inquiry in Ireland’s history.

Highly commended: Assume Nothing: The Secrets of St Brides

What started as an investigation into an unusual boarding school for young women in a small Irish fishing village morphed into a tale of abuse, intrigue and isolation. Assume Nothing: The Secrets of St Brides is a gripping look at a deeply strange incident which utilises the immersive nature of podcasts to its fullest extend to keep listeners hooked.