Belfast Telegraph

Barber Colin McArdle gives cutting hair the chop after 38 years

By Claire McNeilly

Colin McArdle is definitely a dab hand with a pair of scissors.

But after 38 years in business, the veteran barber from Tassagh, Co Armagh, is setting aside the tools of his trade for good.

His landmark shop - Colin's Gents Hairdressers at Abbey Lane, Armagh - will today close its doors for the final time to make way for a new tenant.

Having served "millions" of clients over the years, the decision to stop trading and embrace retirement is one that the father-of-four is looking forward to.

Indeed, after working full time all his life, the 73-year-old hair expert said he just decided "enough is enough; it's time for the young ones to take over".

Colin learnt his trade cutting both men and women's hair in England, after his father Peter and mother Tessie relocated, before returning years later to open a salon at home.

"I was eight or nine when we moved to Manchester and I started hairdressing when I was 15," he said. "After 20 years there I came back to Armagh in 1980 - and I've been here ever since.

"The headmistress at my school in Manchester took a fancy to me and said I should be a ladies hairdresser ... so I started at a unisex place and later switched to gents only in 1965."

Although his parents stayed put, Colin came back here because his wife Roisin (69), with whom he has four grown-up children - Grainne, Declan, Leontia and David, all lawyers - "was a little bit homesick".

And while the grandfather-of-three knows he'll miss work after all this time, he said: "I'll just have to readjust."

He also admitted that it'll be tough saying goodbye to his regular customers, who've stayed loyal to him over generations.

"I'll miss the company and the conversation," he said. "I'll miss meeting with people. I know 90% of my clients by name.

"An awful lot of people have been in tears about me shutting shop. There aren't many of us old barbers left, but I've had my turn so good luck to the new generation."

He revealed that his longest client has been going to him for 38 years, adding: "He came to me on the very first day and he was here again on Thursday."

His new found freedom means that he and Roisin, a semi-retired classroom assistant will have time together, although he added: "The house needs painting and the lawns need cutting."

But he'll never forget being a barber. "You're always meeting somebody and it paid the bills," he said."It's been a good old job. I can't complain about anything."

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