|Developed by||Accomplice Television|
|Written by||Eugene O'Brien|
|Directed by||Charlie McCarthy |
|Starring||Dawn Bradfield |
|Country of origin||Ireland|
|No. of series||2|
|No. of episodes||8|
|Producers||David Collins |
|Running time||50 minutes per episode|
|Original network||RTÉ Two|
|Original release||6 September 2005 –|
6 September 2009
Towns featured in the series include Banagher, Birr and Tullamore, all in County Offaly. It intended to offer an "insight into modern day rural Ireland". The original series was rebroadcast on RTÉ beginning 26 July 2009 at 22:50. 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. "Pure Mule" is a phrase in the Offaly dialect which may mean "really good" or "lousy", depending on the intonation.
Pure Mule won five Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTAs) and was nominated for seven in total. It is still referenced in the Irish media years after its original broadcast. The show is credited with progressing the careers of actors such as Simone Kirby, Garrett Lombard and Charlene McKenna, the last of whom became a household name and face in Ireland following its success. McKenna said the show was "very dark [...] but it has a fun side too". Lombard attributed its success to its realism and bravery, its wide range of characters from all backgrounds and its use of relevant themes.
Original series (2004–2005)
Pure Mule was written as a six-part series aimed at a young audience by the playwright Eugene O'Brien and produced by Accomplice Television, the television arm of Element Films. 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. 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. The setting is a fictional market town in the Irish midlands. The drama was part of a boost in spending of 25% on independent Irish television productions in 2004.
Each episode follows the journey of one character over a weekend from Friday until Monday. Themes covered included binge drunkenness and casual sexual intercourse. 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). Frustrated and embarrassed by his loss, he instead engages in an attempt to win another girl instead.
Cast and crew
|Dermot Ward||Niall Scully|
|Director||Declan Recks, Charlie McCarthy|
|Producer||David Collins, Ed Guiney|
|Director of photography||Owen McPolin|
|Production designer||John Hand|
|Costume designer||Kathy Strachen|
|Location sound||Philippe Faujas|
|Composers||Stephen Rennicks, Hugh Drumm|
Pure Mule received a favourable reaction from the critics, with some praising it for being the first RTÉ drama of the decade to portray issues such as Alzheimer's disease 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.
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".
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. Lombard described him as "a typical Irish male, who liked his drinking and carousing and having a good time".
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. Declan Recks won in the category of Best Director Television. The other award win for the show on the night was in the category of Best Sound for Television or Film.
|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
Pure Mule: The Last Weekend was shot in Birr, County Offaly and the surrounding areas such as Banagher and Shannonbridge. It is again directed by Declan Recks and is again produced by Accomplice Television. The show is written by Eugene O'Brien. The series, which wrapped before the end of July 2009, was shot using the RED high end digital camera format.
The plot involves the imminent departure of Scobie (played by Lombard) to Australia. Jennifer (played by McKenna) returns to attend the funeral of a family member. An economic recession has arrived, reflecting the reality of life in Ireland in 2009.
Tom Murphy, the IFTA award-winning actor of the original series, died in 2007. Well-recognised chimney stacks on the banks of the River Shannon in Shannonbridge which featured in the original series were demolished in July 2009. The towers "featured prominently in the background" of the show.
Complete Season DVD release
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- "Pure Mule is big winner at the IFTAs". RTÉ. 7 November 2005. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
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- "Production Depot Delivers Goods to the Irish Film & TV Industry". Irish Film and Television Network. 30 July 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
- "RTÉ Television unveils new season". RTÉ. 13 August 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2009.
- "Pure Mule star Tom Murphy dies". RTÉ. 8 October 2007. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
- "Historic ESB chimneys bow out with a bang". Irish Independent. 25 July 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
- "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.
- "Pure Mule is out on DVD next month". RTÉ. 30 October 2009. Retrieved 30 October 2009.