Pure Mule

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Pure Mule
Pure Mule poster.jpg
Developed byAccomplice Television
Written byEugene O'Brien
Directed byCharlie McCarthy
Declan Recks
StarringDawn Bradfield
Joanne Crawford
Luke Griffen
Mark Huberman
Simone Kirby
Garret Lombard
Gary Lydon
Charlene McKenna
Tom Murphy
Eileen Walsh
Dermot Ward
Country of originIreland
Original languageEnglish
No. of series2
No. of episodes8
ProducersDavid Collins
Ed Guiney
CinematographyOwen McPolin
EditorGareth Young
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time50 minutes per episode
Original networkRTÉ Two
Picture format720p[1]
Audio formatStereo
Original release6 September 2005 (2005-09-06) –
6 September 2009 (2009-09-06)

Pure Mule was an Irish six-part drama mini-series[2] aimed at a young audience and broadcast on RTÉ Two as part of RTÉ's autumn schedule in 2005,[3] shot and screened in 2004–2005 in County Offaly.

Towns featured in the series include Banagher, Birr and Tullamore, all in County Offaly.[4] It intended to offer an "insight into modern day rural Ireland".[5] The original series was rebroadcast on RTÉ beginning 26 July 2009 at 22:50.[6][7] The show was expected to return to RTÉ Two for two special episodes after three years in the wilderness as part of the autumn 2009 television season, however RTÉ ran the two part special on RTÉ One. The second edition is called Pure Mule: The Last Weekend.[4] "Pure Mule" is a phrase in the Offaly dialect which may mean "really good" or "lousy", depending on the intonation.[8]

Pure Mule won five Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTAs) and was nominated for seven in total.[4] It is still referenced in the Irish media years after its original broadcast.[9] The show is credited with progressing the careers of actors such as Simone Kirby, Garrett Lombard and Charlene McKenna,[2][4][10] the last of whom became a household name and face in Ireland following its success.[11] McKenna said the show was "very dark [...] but it has a fun side too".[4] Lombard attributed its success to its realism and bravery, its wide range of characters from all backgrounds and its use of relevant themes.[2]

Original series (2004–2005)[edit]

Pure Mule was written as a six-part series aimed at a young audience by the playwright Eugene O'Brien[12] and produced by Accomplice Television, the television arm of Element Films.[13] It was promoted as being part of the new "edgier" and "riskier" RTÉ Two schedule, which also featured a gay-themed night following its relaunch from Network 2 in 2004.[14] The original Pure Mule featured a cast which included Tom Murphy, Garret Lombard, Luke Griffen, Gary Lydon, Eileen Walsh, Simone Kirby, Joanne Crawford, Dawn Bradfield and Charlene McKenna. It was shot on high-definition camera.[1] The setting is a fictional market town in the Irish midlands.[6][12] The drama was part of a boost in spending of 25% on independent Irish television productions in 2004.[15]

Each episode follows the journey of one character over a weekend from Friday until Monday.[6] Themes covered included binge drunkenness and casual sexual intercourse.[12] The first episode featured Shamie (played by Tom Murphy), and follows his birthday boozing and his struggle to win the affections of a Dublin girl against his younger brother, Scobie (played by Garrett Lombard).[12] Frustrated and embarrassed by his loss, he instead engages in an attempt to win another girl instead.[12]

Another episode featured a famous threesome involving Geraldine (played by Simone Kirby).[10]

Cast and crew[edit]

Actor Role
Mark Huberman Conor[16]
Simone Kirby Geraldine[10]
Garrett Lombard Scobie[2][17][18]
Gary Lydon Bomber[12]
Charlene McKenna Jennifer[19]
Tom Murphy Shamie
Eileen Walsh Therese[12]
Dermot Ward Niall Scully

Other actors who had roles in Pure Mule included Brian Doherty, Pádraic Delaney, Ian McElhinney, and Seán McGinley.[20][21][22][23]

Crew Name
Writer Eugene O'Brien
Director Declan Recks, Charlie McCarthy
Producer David Collins, Ed Guiney
Director of photography Owen McPolin
Production designer John Hand
Costume designer Kathy Strachen
Editor Gareth Young
Location sound Philippe Faujas
Composers Stephen Rennicks, Hugh Drumm


"It is really weird being recognised in the street. I thought that maybe at home in Monaghan people would recognise me but it’s the same down here in Galway or Dublin or wherever, really weird".

Charlene McKenna on her elevation to stardom as a result of her role in Pure Mule.[11]

Pure Mule received a favourable reaction from the critics,[10] with some praising it for being the first RTÉ drama of the decade to portray issues such as Alzheimer's disease[24] though locals said it portrayed midlanders in a bad light. Tom Parlon, a TD, spoke of the upset Pure Mule's themes of cocaine and other issues caused to "a lot of people" in his constituency of Laois–Offaly, saying:

It does make for uncomfortable viewing especially for someone like me whose has lived all their life in rural Ireland. But let's not be naive here. I believe the programme has also performed a valuable service by highlighting in stark and uncomfortable terms the challenges facing rural Ireland today in particular increased drug use amongst our young population. [...] Pure Mule has shown to all who watch it that young people in every corner of this country are experimenting with and using drugs on a large scale. Teenage sex and sexual promiscuity are other uncomfortable issues that are dealt with. It is fiction but it has also struck a raw nerve because it is telling an unpalatable truth. As a rural TD and as a parent, I believe what we are facing is a ticking time bomb in rural Ireland, where our young people feel increasingly dislocated from their community, where a lack of recreational and social outlets is fuelling the increase in drink and drug use. The last 20 years has brought unprecedented economic growth and social change across Ireland. What we must now do is face up to the social challenges.[25]

Pure Mule was seen as a nod to Bracken and Deadwood, with The Sunday Times praising it for its "impressively lyrical yet largely authentic dialogue" but remaining sceptical of O'Brien's "lapses into ludicrously Oirish speechifying, replete with more hooting "ouls" than a forest park".[12]

Garrett Lombard used to be greeted by cheers each time he passed a building site due to his character, Scobie, being portrayed as an authentic hero by many.[2] Lombard described him as "a typical Irish male, who liked his drinking and carousing and having a good time".[2]


The original Pure Mule won five Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTAs) from seven nominations on 6 November 2005.[26][27][28]

Tom Murphy won in the category of Best Television Actor, whilst Dawn Bradfield won in the category of Best Television Actress. Eileen Walsh won in the category of Best Supporting Actress on Television.[29] Declan Recks won in the category of Best Director Television.[29] The other award win for the show on the night was in the category of Best Sound for Television or Film.[29]

The other two nominations were Garrett Lombard in the category of Best Supporting Actor on Television and director Charlie McCarthy in the same category as Recks.[2][30]

The award ceremony was broadcast on RTÉ One.[30]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2006 Tom Murphy Best Television Actor Won
2006 Dawn Bradfield Best Television Actress Won
2006 Eileen Walsh Best Supporting Actress on Television Won
2006 Declan Recks Best Director Television Won
2006 Philippe Faujas Best Sound for Television or Film Won
2006 Garrett Lombard Best Supporting Actor on Television Nominated
2006 Charlie McCarthy Best Director Television Nominated

Pure Mule: The Last Weekend[edit]

Pure Mule: The Last Weekend was shot in Birr, County Offaly and the surrounding areas such as Banagher and Shannonbridge.[7] It is again directed by Declan Recks and is again produced by Accomplice Television.[7] The show is written by Eugene O'Brien.[7] The series, which wrapped before the end of July 2009, was shot using the RED high end digital camera format.[31]

The plot involves the imminent departure of Scobie (played by Lombard) to Australia.[7] Jennifer (played by McKenna) returns to attend the funeral of a family member.[7] An economic recession has arrived, reflecting the reality of life in Ireland in 2009.[7][32]

Tom Murphy, the IFTA award-winning actor of the original series, died in 2007.[33] Well-recognised chimney stacks on the banks of the River Shannon in Shannonbridge which featured in the original series were demolished in July 2009.[34] The towers "featured prominently in the background" of the show.[35]

Complete Season DVD release[edit]

The box set Pure Mule: The Complete Series was released on DVD by Element Pictures Distribution on 13 November 2009.[36]


  1. ^ a b "Production Depot Becomes Agent For Arri Media UK". Irish Film and Television Network. 7 February 2005. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "From bombs to smash hits, yer man off the telly is pure mule". Irish Independent. 5 March 2006. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  3. ^ "RTÉ launches Autumn schedule". RTÉ. 11 August 2005. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d e "RTE hit Pure Mule is back after three years". Evening Herald. 1 July 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  5. ^ "Studs (15A)". RTÉ. 15 March 2006. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  6. ^ a b c "RTÉ One begins Pure Mule repeats". RTÉ. 25 July 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "Pure Mule coming back to RTÉ". RTÉ. 2 July 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  8. ^ "GAA: Comeback kids do it again". The Nationalist. 2 January 2006. Archived from the original on 23 February 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  9. ^ "Small-town things you just can't buy". Sunday Independent. 26 July 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  10. ^ a b c d "The taming of the Mule's Simone Kirby". Irish Independent. 19 March 2006. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  11. ^ a b "Lonesome West for Charlene". Laois Nationalist. 11 March 2005. Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2009.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h "Television: Liam Fay: The Midland Tribune". The Sunday Times. London. 11 September 2005. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  13. ^ "Lee Magiday is New Head of Production at Element". Irish Film and Television Network. 28 November 2006. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  14. ^ Battles, Jan (26 September 2004). "Network 2 goes gay for ratings". The Sunday Times. London. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  15. ^ "Spending on TV productions up 25% in year". Irish Examiner. 21 December 2005. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  16. ^ "They should be so lucky". Irish Independent. 9 October 2005. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  17. ^ "A family getting in on the act". Irish Independent. 6 November 2006. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  18. ^ "Final chance to see Druid's production of 'The Year of the Hiker'". Roscommon Herald. 22 November 2006. Retrieved 30 July 2009.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ "Raw talent: New RTÉ drama series ready to cook up a storm". Irish Independent. 8 May 2008. Retrieved 14 June 2009.
  20. ^ "Comedian Pat Shortt enjoys small town life in film role". Evening Echo. 3 September 2006. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  21. ^ "Strong showing in Cannes for Irish films". Evening Echo. 11 May 2006. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  22. ^ "Irish stars head for Cannes". Irish Examiner. 14 May 2006. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  23. ^ "The man who knows who he is". Irish Independent. 8 October 2006. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  24. ^ "Down with the house of Frasier". Irish Independent. 8 January 2006. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  25. ^ "Cocaine use 'a time bomb' says Minister". Irish Independent. 25 September 2005. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  26. ^ "Glamour galore at Irish film awards". The Irish News (subscription required). 7 November 2005. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  27. ^ "IFTA 2005 Glamour Shines..." ShowBiz Ireland. 9 November 2005. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  28. ^ "Irish Film and Television Award winners announced". The Irish Emigrant. 13 November 2005. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  29. ^ a b c "Pure Mule is big winner at the IFTAs". RTÉ. 7 November 2005. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  30. ^ a b "Pure Mule dominates IFTA shortlist". RTÉ. 29 September 2005. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  31. ^ "Production Depot Delivers Goods to the Irish Film & TV Industry". Irish Film and Television Network. 30 July 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  32. ^ "RTÉ Television unveils new season". RTÉ. 13 August 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2009.
  33. ^ "Pure Mule star Tom Murphy dies". RTÉ. 8 October 2007. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  34. ^ "Historic ESB chimneys bow out with a bang". Irish Independent. 25 July 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  35. ^ "Shannonbridge chimneys go out with a bang". The Irish Times. 25 July 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2009. FAMILIAR LANDMARKS on the banks of the Shannon disappeared in a pile of rubble yesterday when the ESB demolished the two chimney stacks at their old power plant in Shannonbridge, Co Offaly. So great is the gap on the skyline that one onlooker, former ESB worker Derry Killeen, wondered whether people on hired cruisers on the river might lose their bearings, as the stacks had been visible for many miles. He suggested that a flag might have to be put up instead for confused navigators. [...] The towers had featured prominently in the background in the midlands-based Pure Mule television series.
  36. ^ "Pure Mule is out on DVD next month". RTÉ. 30 October 2009. Retrieved 30 October 2009.

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