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Townlands: In The Barber's Chair Wednesday, 23 July 8.30pm RTE ONETOWNLANDS gives Ireland's traditional barber shops a short back and sides this week and reveals the secrets of the barber shop chair.

The barber shop is one of the last exclusively male bastions left in the country. This documentary offers viewers a peek into this male-dominated world and finds out what men choose to talk about while at the mercy of their barber's scissors.

The barber shop is a place where unisex is still a dirty word and the thought of a fifty euro haircut, eually obscene. The filmmakers travel the country and talk to traditional Irish barbers from Dublin's Temple Bar to a mobile barber in rural Donegal.

The Waldorf Adare in Dublin's Westmoreland Street is one of the oldest barber shops in the country . It opened its doors 90 years ago and has been clipping, cutting and shaving satisfied customers ever since.

Liam Finnegan, owner of the Waldorf Adare, combines traditional hot towel shaves with Indian tonic friction head massages. His very traditional approach highlights and illustrates times past.

Barber shops are places where time has largely stood still. Perhaps, as creatures of habit, men like it that way.

Despite the arrival of the electric clippers, many of the old traditions of the barber shop survive.

According to Bert Mulhall, from Bert's Barbers in Skerries, Co Dublin: "A barber has to have the feet of an elephant and the legs of a table, the patience of Job, the hands of a surgeon at times, the psyche of a psychologist and the confessional ability of a priest."

Among the more unusual barber shops in the film is the Tunnel Barbershop in Cavan wher owner Paul McCusker, has a novel idea - a disco barbers. During the day, when his older customers come to him, the shop is bright and well lit - but come late afternoon when his younger customers start to arrive, the disco lights go on and the mirror ball starts to turn.

While barbers like Paul and others like to innovate, the old traditional barber shop is safe in the hands of a new generation like Alan Kelly from The Regent Barbers in Dublin.

Alan aims to follow in his father's footsteps and continue a valuable tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation.

Something for the weekend sir?


TRADITION: Liam Finnegan at the 90-year-old Waldorf Adare; FRINGE BENEFITS: Bert Mulhall believes a barber has to be a master of many skills; ON THE GO: remoteness is no problem for this mobile barber in D=onegal
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 20, 2003
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