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12th Feb 2024

‘You can meet monsters in the boardroom as well’ – Nicola Tallant unphased by the criminal underworld

Anna Martin

Nicola Tallant

Nicola Tallant seems unphased as she speaks about her career

As an accomplished author, podcaster and investigative journalist, relaxed wouldn’t be the first word that comes to mind when you think of her job description but she just has that energy.

“I suppose looking in from the outside it looks a bit more mental,” Nicola says, “But some people say you can meet monsters in the boardroom as well.”

While that’s very true, some may argue that meeting convicted murderers and reporting on these murder cases is just a tiny bit more high-intensity, but I digress.

One of Nicola’s latest projects was a podcast called Beast: The Murder of Nora Sheehan where she dove into the details of the crime, a cold case that was solved in August of 2023.

Nicola Tallant
Credit: Nicola Tallant

Yet, just because justice was only served months ago, doesn’t mean that the reporter wasn’t deep into her research beforehand.

“I kind of got started in the middle of the trial, actually I had done something on the Nora Sheehan case before, a cold case investigation into what happened,” she explains.

“At the time I went and doorstepped Noel Long, I found him just outside Cork City and he wanted nothing to do with me, so when I ran the story at the time I was contacted by Nora Sheehan’s grandson.”

From there, Nicola’s plan was parked for a while, but of course, she kept an eye on developments and when Noel was charged with the murder of Nora she dove headfirst in, getting back in touch with the convicted murderer’s sister Julieanna Moore Watkins and Nora’s grandson.

Though most of us might feel a heavy emotional toll, dealing with family members of someone who died in tragic circumstances, Nicola tries to not take the feelings home.

“I suppose it’s the job, you have to allow people to project their emotions while you’re doing your work in the background, you have to do your best to try and reflect that without getting too stuck into the middle of it yourself,” she explains.

“At the end of the day, we’re sharing their stories.”

nicola tallant
Credit: Sunday Wolrd

Needless to say, you also have to approach the family members of victims with respect and support, something that Nicola understands.

“You try and give them an idea of what’s your hope and the final result will. It helps when you have something for them to listen back on, for example, that podcast I did, The Witness.

“I think a lot of people listen to this sort of thing and showing them that this is the kind of thing we’re hoping to achieve here.”

Beyond speaking to families, Nicola has encountered a lot of criminals and even had coffee with some, yet still, she enters every situation with an air of calm.

Credit: Nicola Tallant
Credit: Nicola Tallant

“Most criminals who want to talk come with an agenda. They have a reason for doing so. It’s not just the goodness of their heart. You also have to work out what their agenda is and if you’re okay with,” she says simply.

“I mean, sometimes it’s because they just want someone else exposed to what they’re doing and usually that would help their business. Obviously, if they want a piece of information out or want to have somebody murdered that’s not okay.

“You just have to navigate each step of the way.”