First Encounters: Dylan Bradshaw and Paul Foley


is one of Ireland’s top hairdressers, running a salon in Dublin city centre. Among his clients are U2, Victoria Beckham and The Corrs. Originally from Blackrock, Co Dublin, he now lives in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow

“I trained as a hairdresser at Peter Mark in Dún Laoghaire and worked for a year with Paul’s brother, Greg. I met Paul, who’s 10 years older than me, through him. My first impression was that he was a very easygoing fellow. He had a restaurant in Monkstown at the time, Valparaiso. For years all my friends have been older than me, because I started full-time work after I walked out of school (was asked to leave) when I was 15.

We had a lot in common. Both our parents’ marriages broke up when we were young. I’m the eldest of four brothers and I was 12 at the time. I spoke to him about that, how he felt when it happened to him, how I felt about it when it happened to me. It was good to meet somebody in the same position who understood, to learn how they dealt with it. When I was a kid I rebelled a bit; as I got older, I became a lot more philosophical.

I had no interest in hairdressing, oh God no, my mother got me the job. People said I wasn’t particularly good at it so I worked extra hard. I wasn’t artistic, but I’ve always been focused, driven. I’m from working-class Blackrock. My mum’s a hard grafter and so are all her family, that was definitely ingrained into us. She has always driven us to do better for ourselves, to be independent. She had to go out to work. She had four sons and no income coming in so she opened her own restaurant in Dún Laoghaire and ended up with a couple of coffee shops. All of us are self-employed.

I’ve always had an old head on my shoulders. I was 23 when I bought a house, 27 when I opened my own salon. I was working with The Corrs at the time, in Reds on Dawson Street. At that stage I was looking for a salon and they were very supportive. I’ve looked after many celebrities over the years but I hate that tag “celebrity hairdresser”, it can scare people off.

I looked for advice from Paul when I was setting up the business, for sure. Now my wife Charlotte, who’s an accountant, is managing director. But Paul is the guy I always bounced things off. And he doesn’t do that “oh yeah, great, whatever you say” thing, he’s honest. That’s the thing about friends, you can talk to each other honestly. He’s one of the few people I listen to and respect. It’s harder now, with family and work, to get out for a pint and a catch-up, or the yearly game of golf. But when we do go out we can talk about my life, his life, what we’re going through. His wife, Zoe, is a really nice person, a beautiful woman. We all know each other well. Paul and I talk quite regularly on the phone. Paul’s just a very genuine guy.”

is a restaurateur whose restaurant, Downstairs, in Clontarf, has been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand, given for good food at a reasonable price, for two years in a row. He also owns Le Petit Cochon restaurant in Sandycove, Co Dublin

“My brother and sister worked in the hairdressing business and it was my brother Greg who introduced me to Dylan back in the 1990s. I had just come back from living in Australia and he would have been in his early 20s then. Dylan was good fun but even then he was very ambitious, knew exactly what he wanted to do and had a good strong moral compass. We just hit it off. Dylan was driven, very much so, eager to open his own place.

I’m a chef, I trained in Jury’s in Ballsbridge and then worked in London and Australia for four years. I wanted to own a restaurant from an early age and was nearly 29 when I opened Valparaiso in Monkstown. It closed after 20 years. My dad left the family home early on, my mum brought us up, that probably is something that drives you. It’s something I share with Dylan. He was the oldest son and had an older head on him. We’re both from working-class Blackrock, I’m from Sweetman’s Avenue, not too far from where Dylan grew up.

My mum was a huge role model for me: she reared five kids with no help from anyone. Dylan and I have discussed our similar backgrounds at length, discovered that common background early on and were very open about it. I think Dylan’s mum and my mum instilled that in us, to make something of ourselves. They didn’t know each other, but they have met now; his mum was at my wedding when Zoe and I got married nine years ago.

Dylan and I clicked. We played a lot of golf together, although we’ve become too busy over the past four or five years for that. Dylan has a very busy work schedule, although he’s still generous with his time when it comes to meeting his friends; we still take holidays together sometimes. We talk to each other every week, always keep in touch.

I opened the Downstairs Restaurant just off the seafront on Hollybrook Park in Clontarf a few years ago, won the Michelin Bib Gourmand, a huge accolade. My business partner Brian Walsh is a fantastic chef.

I use Dylan as a sounding board. He’s not the sort of friend who’ll nod his head when I nod mine, he’ll give an honest opinion. You want to hear the truth and he has a good business head, I appreciate his advice. Business has been tough for everybody over the past six or seven years; sometimes I’ll ring him late looking to discuss a problem, not looking for a solution, just to share the pain.

My wife Zoe and I hang out with his wife Charlotte and kids Oscar, Ethan and Dexter. I’ve just a few great friends and Dylan is certainly one of my really, really good friends – the family you get to choose.”

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