This is sad. For many reasons. It’s sad because a family searching for answers over lost loved ones is heart-wrenching. Sad too because it’s obvious now the Garda investigation was, to put it mildly, inadequate. But it’s also sad because The Killing of Father Niall Molloy doesn’t give this fascinating story justice, rather it gets caught in the weeds – a lot.
I don’t know how RTÉ did it, but it turned a 1985 murder that gripped the nation into a two-part humdrum affair. Maybe some editing to halve the length would’ve been better.
If you aren’t up to speed on this convoluted story, this is a decent place to start. Between dodgy business dealings, horse racing, blatant Garda oversight and lies about friends and family, there’s a lot to unpack. And this documentary unpacks like a sugar-high child on Christmas morning. Delving into the nitty-gritty can make you feel lost on more than a few occasions.
Perhaps that’s the point, it is an unsolved murder case after all. But its almost two-hour runtime had me wanting a more satisfying payoff. Instead, it just fizzles out like a fully melted candle.
Technically, it’s a well-edited piece. It’s got lots of interesting B-roll. But so does Nationwide. And when that’s the thing that sticks out after watching a murder documentary, it doesn’t inspire much confidence.
The interviews with Father Molloy’s niece and nephews are the most gripping part. His brutal murder sets off a chain of deaths across the family – something they say was linked with the stress of the case.
Their love, and the love the community of Clara, Offaly had for him is obvious and the documentary does well to focus on the radiant Father Molloy and the impact he had on the people around him.
Also worthwhile was the discussion between the forensic experts in the second part. They pick apart the gaping holes in the Garda investigation and various testimonies using a recreated crime scene. It’s all very CSI.
But ultimately The Killing of Father Molloy feels like a capable horse in need of blinders. RTÉ needed to sit down and ask themselves where to focus, because ‘everywhere’ hasn’t worked. Not everyone likes going down rabbit holes. They make me sad when they go nowhere.
The Killing of Father Molloy is streaming now on RTÉ Player.