Penchant for barbers and hairdressers puts Abbeyfeale in the spotlight for RTE documentary

Abbeyfeale, a town with a great community spirit and a population of around two thousand people, has more hairdressers and barbers per head of population than any other town in the country, a fact that was showcased on RTE One in the most entertaining documentary, ‘Abbeyfealegood’.
The programme had a lovely folksy feel to it, as viewers got an insight, not just into the life of hairdressers and barbers in the West Limerick town, but also into the private lives of some of their clients, as they revealed some of the innermost feelings in front of the mirror, and in front of the television camera.

Sixteen – the magic number
There are sixteen barbers and hairdressers on just two streets in Abbeyfeale.
Through economic struggles, depopulation, and a never-ending stream of traffic passing through, the town has experienced much hardship in recent years and, while pubs, restaurants and shops have closed, hairdressers and barbers have sprung up in their place.

Good to talk
It could be said that they are the lifeblood of Abbeyfeale. Locals frequent them to look good and feel good, and whether they be young or old, they also come to talk.
There is a unique and intimate bond between customers and hairdressers and some of them have known each other for decades. Each business has its own type of customers and their own atmosphere. And, in the mirrors of these salons, stories unfold that elevate ordinary, everyday existence into something universal and extraordinary.

Heartfelt stories
Denis remembered the grief at losing his daughter, who was buried in her Holy Communion dress, and the consequences that followed for his own mental health. He told of going for counselling and about putting out a place setting on the table for his late daughter at Christmas.
Alisha Scannell O’Connor of Trendy Locks spoke about her little girl, eight-year-old Zoe who died in a car crash. She recalled going on holidays for the first time and feeling guilty and then her boarding pass said seat 20E, which looked like Zoe, so there are little signs everywhere.

There for the ‘craic’
There were, of course, many more light hearted moments too as women enjoyed the craic with jokes and stories while getting some ‘me time’ in the local hair salons.
One lady confessed that she got her hair done every single week, while another said that marriage was ‘an institution for the insane’. The matter of how many pubs had been in Abbefeale over the years was discussed at some length, with opinions varying between 41 and 64.

Where’s the kettle
Another man, relaxing by the fireplace in Florrie’s claimed that people kept asking that the barber should get a kettle to make a cup of tea for clients. Florrie, he joked, felt that the tea bags were too expensive!
One of the final clips showed Florrie O’Connell giving a haircut to one of the longest serving priests in the Limerick Diocese, Canon James Neville, who sadly passed away two days after the interview was filmed.

Anxious to open again
For the record, these were the hairdressers and barbers showcased in ‘Abbeyfealegood’ – As You Like It, The Good Hair Company, Cut N Curl, Nova Del, Anne’s Hair Salon, Blades, Fuchsia, Trendy Locks, Upper Cuts, The Deep End, Rock Hair, Scissors, Shadows, Florrie’s, Norma’s, Nic’s Barbers and Upper Cuts. And, it almost goes without saying that all will be more than happy when the current emergency ends and they’re once again able to open their doors to eager clients.