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VIP chats to Carl Mullen; “Every day, I feel like the luckiest person on the planet”

Carl Mullen
Pic: Evan Doherty for VIP Magazine

It’s safe to say it’s been a year Carl Mullan won’t forget in a hurry. With countless milestone moments, from both his personal and professional life, it’ll definitely go down as one of his favourites – and rightly so. Last May, following a shake-up in RTE, the broadcaster landed his dream job as co-host of 2FM Breakfast. The role sees him waking up the nation each weekday morning alongside Doireann Garrihy and Donnacha O’Callaghan.

Forming an instant bond he admits there’s times they’re more like siblings than colleagues, and he has no doubt in his mind that they’ll be friends for life. But another much greater bond was also born at that same time, as his first child Daibhi arrived safely into the world just a few weeks later. Carl and his beautiful partner Aisling, who joined us for this shoot, have been basking in a bubble of joy for almost a year now – and while juggling life with a newborn have also been busy planning their wedding which will be taking place at the end of the month.

How they find the time to do it all, we’ll never know. In the midst of the all the madness, Carl took a few hours to hang out with us, and fill us in on the craziest – and most fulfilling – 12 months of his life.

Carl Mullen
Pic: Evan Doherty for VIP Magazine

Carl, we’re sorry to tell you but little Daibhi stole the show today. You’re out!
Oh, he’s flying it! I can’t believe I’m now this person, but I just want to show pictures of him to everyone I see. I’m insufferable! [Bursts into laughter] He got his first tooth there over the weekend and I can’t believe how excited I got about it. He’s growing up so fast! He’s trying to talk too, there’s lots of goo-ing and gaa-ing so I reckon we might get our first word soon. He’s just great.

How have you found fatherhood so far?
I always knew I was going to love being a dad, but this is different to what I imagined. You could be having a really bad day and you’ll see him, he’ll throw a little smile and it just makes you instantly happier. I was giving him a bottle last night around 10pm and he fell asleep in my arms. I just looked at Ash and said I can’t believe he’s our baby. It’s just so lovely. I love fatherhood, a lot more than I thought I would.

You and Ash have together for years, and have known each other since you were kids… was it a big adjustment for you both when the little lad came along?
Do you know what, this probably sounds ridiculous, but having a dog kind of prepares you for it. Genuinely! We’ve had Angie since she was a puppy, she’s a Labrador and absolutely mental, but as soon as we got her, we quickly learned that it wasn’t just us anymore. It gets you used to the idea that you’re now no longer just responsible for yourself. My respect for mothers is through the roof though. Seeing Ash becoming a mam and everything she has done for Daibhi, it’s incredible. She’s simply amazing.

Tell us, between late nights with the baby and early starts on the breakfast show, do you ever sleep?
When Daibhi was first born, I didn’t realise it at the time but I was burning the candle at both ends. It was manic. Now, a lot of the ball is in my own court when it comes to being tired. Generally now if I’m wreaked it’s because I haven’t gone to bed early enough. We’ve become really good at it, so Daibhi will go to bed at around 8pm, we might have some time together but then we’ll go to bed around 9.30pm. The temptation is always there to stay up and watch another episode of a show, but the following day we’ll both be wreaked. It’s not worth it!

It’s been almost a year now since you first landed the RTE 2FM show. It’s gone by so quickly! How are you finding it?
I was only talking to Donnacha about this today. It’s bonkers! Honestly, every day, I feel like the luckiest person on the planet and I’m not just saying that. I genuinely feel so lucky to have this job.
Myself, Doireann and Donnacha just fall around the place laughing. What an outrageously great situation to be in? Between the birth of Daibhi and landing this job, I would very confidently say it’s the best year of my life.

Carl Mullen
Pic: Evan Doherty for VIP Magazine

You three genuinely seem like the very best of pals. Did you gel instantly? Tell us about your relationship with Doireann and Donnacha.
That’s so lovely to hear because I’d hate people to think we’re making it up. A couple of years ago I worked with Doireann for some projects on the RTE Player and we got to know each other quite well through that. Then funnily enough during the first lockdown, the Phoenix Park was within both of our 2km radius’, so there was a few times we’d bump into each other there. We became even closer friends then. With Donnacha, it’s gas because I’m such a rugby buff. I used to play it in school and love watching the Six Nations so when he walked into the office, I couldn’t believe it. He knew straight away we were on the same wave length in terms of taking the mick out of each other. He’s the type of person who’d walk into a room and be best mates with you in less than three minutes. He’s just that kind of guy!

The reaction to the show has been massively positive, but do you ever face any trolling or negativity? Would you all be very protective of each other, seeing as it’s such a tight-knit group?
Yeah, everyone who works on radio gets abusive texts. It can be very easy to get sucked in by them, especially if you’re having a bad day and that’s when it’s brilliant having the other two. We all look out for each other, and when we see that someone has taken something to heart, we pull them aside for a chat. We’re so lucky though, there’s only a small handful of that.

Will they be going to the wedding?
Oh of course, I couldn’t not have them there! I’d be murdered [laughs]. No, I really want them there, and our producer Grace as well.

The big day is only around the corner now, how do you feel and are you all set?

It’s all pretty much done and dusted, bar some pretty small things. The only thing that matters to us is getting the people we care about into one room. Once we had the venue, band and photographer booked, we were happy. It’ll all happen on April 22nd, in Wicklow and we’re just very excited.

We can’t wait to see how you both look – we’re sure Ash’s dress will be gorgeous!
Ash worked Irish designer Aoife Kennedy to make it. I know I’m going to be a blubbering mess when I see her. I’ll be one of those grooms who won’t stop crying!

You share so much on social media so will you be posting about the big day, or do you plan to hold some things back just for you both?
I’ll definitely be sharing stuff, but I won’t be on my phone for the day. Even though I do share a lot, I keep more things private than people might realise.

You always keep it very real online, in the sense that you come across so positive and happy but you when you are having an off day, as everyone does, you’re also open about that too. Do you think it’s important to showcase both sides?
Yes! For anyone who’s watching people online thinking everything is great or questioning how someone is so positive at all the time, it needs to be made clear that nobody is like that all the time. I’ve always been a bit of a messer and a joker, sometimes I hide behind that a bit more than I should. Like everyone, I have days where I feel crap. It’s important to let people know that. You shouldn’t ever compare yourself to anyone online. It’s so easy to curate a life online. If you’re not feeling good, why would you pick your phone up and share it? I’ve only recently started to make more of an effort to make that more apparent, that I’m not 100 percent positive,100 percent of the time.

Carl Mullen
Pic: Evan Doherty for VIP Magazine

Working so prominently online and radio, are you more wary these days about what you post with cancel culture being such a big thing, that with one wrong move and everything can change?
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about it. Before you post or say something, you always have to stop and think about it. Everyone will find things you do either funny or not funny, but you have to be aware that certain things can be offensive so you need to really think things through. You have to learn how to filter and to be able to say hang on a minute, and consider it first. When you share something online, its there forever.

How do you see the digital realm changing? Could you see yourself making a move from social to tv or again, do something for the RTE Player? It seems like it could be a very natural progression for you.
Oh I would love to do more with the Player. I did a travel show for them and it’s such a love of mine. It was short, but you could make seasons and seasons of it. I’d love to do more long-form stuff as well. The style of content is changing. You’re seeing it more and more, but even tv shows are done in a more vlog style. It’s a lot of self-shot stuff, and I love that.

With so much going on, will you be taking a break for honeymoon and enjoying some downtime?
Yes, I’ll be taking a few weeks off straight after the wedding. We’re going to spend some time going around Ireland and of course we’ll bring Daibhi with us. We might even bring Angie the dog! We might do something else a little bit later on in the year, but having all of our family around, we don’t want to be rushing off immediately to go somewhere abroad. We want to appreciate and enjoy that! A couple of weeks away to relax and reset, and enjoy some family time together will be special.

Interview: Michelle Dardis
Photography: Evan Doherty
Styling: Zeda The Architect
Glam: Lisa Smyth using Charlotte Tilbury for makeup and R&Co for hair

This was shot at the beautiful 5 star Intercontinental Hotel. Visit www.intercontinentaldublin.ie for more.

Listen to RTE 2FM Breakfast, midweek from 6-9am.

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