Old-school Dublin barber with online following dies aged 73

Tributes paid to one of the capital’s best-known and most respected barbers

Liam Finnegan is seen at the Waldorf Barbershop in Westmoreland Street, Dublin, in 2011. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Liam Finnegan is seen at the Waldorf Barbershop in Westmoreland Street, Dublin, in 2011. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

The death has taken place of Liam Finnegan, one of Dublin’s best-known and most respected barbers.

Mr Finnegan (73) took over the Waldorf Barbershop in Westmoreland Street with his daughter Linda in 1994.

He battled cancer for several years and died on Sunday morning. He lost his eye to the disease some years ago, but carried on cutting hair.

Mr Finnegan was the son of Bill Finnegan, a barber who had a premises in Inchicore. His earliest memories were sweeping the floor of the premises for his father and lighting the fire for the first customers of the day.

When long hair became the fashion in the 1960s and 1970s, Bill Finnegan would send his customers to the ladies’ salon to get a cut.

Speaking to The Irish Times in 2013, Liam Finnegan said those were tough years, but that he was “lucky” as he “knew how to trim long hair”.

He also said the bond between man and barber was once so strong that “when my father’s old shaves died, they’d leave word they wanted him to shave them for the coffin.

“I did that once or twice. I didn’t like it.”

After taking over the Westmoreland Street premises, the Finnegans stripped out the fittings and turned the Waldorf into an old-fashioned barber shop. All haircuts were given on a raised dais which Finnegan likened to stepping up to the altar to receive Communion.

Old-school revival

The Waldorf revived old-school barbering with cut-throat razors and hand clippers, but spread the word via Facebook. It also has a YouTube channel dedicated to their style of barbering. The channel is titled Tonstrina, the Latin for barber shop.

“We had 2,500 barbers from all over the world following us. I made him a star, but I was only the director,” Linda said. “Liam taught our barbers the French razor haircut in which you don’t use a scissors, but a razor. It’s like a haircut within a haircut. I’ll be taking it on the road to teach barbers around the world.”

She said the Waldorf pioneered the return of the side-parting in recent years following years of the short back and sides.

“We had an old barbering book from my grandfather called The Arts and Craft of Hairdressing and we would figure out how to do the style. It took off all over the world.”

Mr Finnegan is survived by his wife Magda, his son Brian, daughters Linda, Caragh, Aideen and Joanne, and grandchildren.