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Releasing their dream

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SILVER SCREENERSFilmmakers Alan and Anthony Mulligan, whose film, ‘The Limit Of’ goes on general cinema release this week.

Edwin McGreal


Alan and Anthony Mulligan have to pinch themselves this week. The Charlestown brothers’ film ‘The Limit Of’ will premiere in Dublin and Castlebar before going on general release this Friday.
It’s something they were not always convinced would happen, as life and circumstance threw plenty of curved balls their way. They were under starter’s orders to commence filming in 2014, but that same year life would change dramatically for Anthony, now aged 34. He had surgery to remove a brain tumour in June 2014 and further surgery in June 2015.
The film was put to one side for a few months, but they started filming in 2015. All the while Anthony was, and still is, managing a neurological condition.
‘The Limit Of’ centres on James Allen, a disillusioned banker (not unlike Alan Mulligan himself, who left a well-paid job as a loans manager with Bank of Ireland to chase his dream of filmmaking). Allen’s carefully controlled lifestyle starts to unravel after a family tragedy, and James seeks vengeance against his ruthless employer.
The film premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh in 2017, and it is due to screen in cinemas this week.

Challenging times
Between the premiere and now, there has been a lot of strife for the Mulligans. Their dad, Anthony, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour in 2017. He was given four to six months to live. He wrought 23 months out of the diagnosis, eventually passing away in January.
Anthony Jnr has ongoing issues too. He has epileptic episodes on a regular basis, ranging from minor to major, as well as bouts of low energy levels and has to check in with neurosurgeons and neurologists every four to six weeks in Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital. On top of that, he and his wife, Edel, are now parents to twin six-month-old boys, Anthony and James.
A former Mayo footballer in James Horan’s first term and a talented player with Charlestown, Anthony was reluctant to give up on playing for his club. So even though a training session would be enough to lay him up in bed all of the next day, he tried to return to the fold in 2018.
He started their first championship game against Knockmore but had an epileptic episode at half-time.
“The team talk had to continue,” recalls Anthony, laughing at the memory. “The boys then had to go out for the second half after seeing that – and we had been losing at half time. They went out and won the game then, what does that say about me?!”
There’s no doubt from talking to Anthony that his positivity and humour are huge assets when it comes to dealing with his ongoing condition.
“The craic myself and my mates have, it’s a twisted sense of humour but it’s good fun and good spirits. I have my bad days too, but if I’m looking on the dark side all the time, I’m just going to be a moody fecker,” he says.
That was the end of his football career, but working as a producer on the film with his brother Alan as director has given him an outlet.
“Anthony can’t now rely on his body like he used to, so the film allows him to use his mind,” said Alan Mulligan.
The future remains uncertain, governed by the check-ups in Beaumont Hospital. “We ask what we can expect for the future, and they always say ‘he’s had two brain surgeries’ – basically, that he is lucky to be alive,” said Alan.
So for a good part of recent years Alan Mulligan was at home acting as a carer for both his brother, when he was poorly, and his dad.
“Dad hadn’t great strength but his mind was perfect; he could chat away. He was great craic. It was like three lads from college living together. You don’t always get that time with your parents,” said Alan. Their mother, Bernadette, passed away 15 years ago.

The red carpet
‘The Limit Of’ premieres in the Savoy in Dublin tonight (Tuesday) and in Mayo Movie World in Castlebar on Thursday night. Tommy Marren of Midwest Radio will be master of ceremonies for the red carpet. Tickets are still available, and can be bought at Mayo Movie World or from the cinema’s website, www.mayomovieworld.ie.
The film will go on general release on Friday in Mayo Movie World, The Eye Cinema in Galway, The Gate in Cork, The Savoy in Dublin, the IMC in Santry with more locations expected to follow.
HBO Europe has bought the film, and it has also been sold in China. The Mulligans turned down an offer from RTÉ, believing the cinema release would increase its value and garner more publicity.
Future plans include a TV series, which Alan describes as ‘Peaky Blinders meets the GAA’, another feature film and a game show. But, for now, the Mulligan brothers can enjoy their achievements after a testing few years.
“The goal at the beginning, five years ago … we wanted to start off the run at the Galway Film Fleadh and finish with a cinema release. For that to happen for a €30,000 budget film is unheard of.
It’s just phenomenal to think we’ve done that,” said Alan Mulligan. Going beyond the limit of.