We could all really do with a trip to the barbers of the hairdresser's right now. That applies doubly for people who've decided to go "home remedy" on their mops during the lockdown. Maybe it's that primal need that made us all so drawn to RTE's Abbeyfealegood last night. Or maybe it was the wonderful television the show produced, with all of the humour, emotion, and rawness of human, rural life on full display.
The small town of Abbeyfeale in County Limerick (population 2,023) has 16 barber or hairdresser premises in the town, more per head of population than anywhere else in the country. With the rural town struggling in recent years with the closure of many businesses including the post office and a seemingly unknowable amount of pubs, these salons have become a key part of the Abbeyfeale's social community.
— RTÉ One (@RTEOne) April 19, 2020
The idea to make a show about a small rural town based around this profession and the rituals of people going for a haircut and a chat was an inspired one by filmmakers Atom Films, and created some great television, exposing the country to some wonderful characters.
Needless to say, it hit the watching public right in the feels.
Elderly barber stands back and quietly, unconsciously, wrings his hands as the man in foreground talks about his 19 year old son's suicide. Extraordinary, touching, beautiful television from a small Irish town. #Abbeyfealegood https://t.co/ij2WXxESkc
— Tom Doorley (@tomdoorley) April 20, 2020
#Abbeyfealegood My God, I didn’t see all this heartbreak coming! That lovely quiet older barber standing silent as the man talks about his son’s suicide. So many people opening up on amazing personal trauma and grief. Fantastic programme.
— Stephen O'Byrnes (@obyrness) April 20, 2020
Well I watched #abbeyfealegood with a lump in my throat for the entire hour. What a gorgeous programme. Went from laughing to crying. Men speaking so openly about their emotions was so moving. Absolute wreck now 😭
— Shane Beatty (@ShaneBeattyNews) April 20, 2020
My 15-year old wants to stop at Florrie O'Connell's Barber, Abbeyfeale on our next trip to Kerry. Congratulations to Alex Fegan, 'The Irish Pub' (2013), 'Older than Ireland' (2015) on a great piece #Abbeyfealegood @RTEOne Strengthens the argument for Irish content on Irish TV! pic.twitter.com/OOdJY7hUCI
— Aodh Ó Coileáin (@Possiewassie) April 20, 2020
I was laughing a minute ago and now I'm bawling ugh.
Great show. #Abbeyfealegood
— Caolán Mc Aree (@Caolanmcaree) April 20, 2020
My God, that was beautiful. I bet Alex Fegan would modestly proclaim it's the story of people's everyday lives that make his films such a joy, but he has a precious talent in communicating them stories to us! #Abbeyfealegood following on from the brilliance of #OlderThanIreland
— Colm Gallagher (@LivingLegendDJ) April 20, 2020
I loved every second of #abbeyfealegood . What a beautiful program depicting our beautiful , close-knit , friendly little town. So proud of my town, my home and the people who live in it.
— Aoife Daly (@AoifD11) April 20, 2020
— Davina Smith (@1DavinaSmith) April 20, 2020
That beautiful priest dying 2 days after.
The sadness, humour and humanity of it all.
My word. That was beautiful television. 😭#Abbeyfealegood
— 📻 Ed Smith 📻 (@EdTodayFM) April 20, 2020
One man that came in for more attention than most was local barber "Florrie". A few locals also added to his legend on Twitter with this story.
Just to add to the legend that Florrie has become tonight, he used to charge £3 for a haircut but always gave you back 20p so you could get sweets in Ann Lyons’ shop across the road 💇♂️ #abbeyfealegood pic.twitter.com/rmpXxQKqkC
— Philip Collins (@philip_collins9) April 20, 2020
Let's hope we can get these shops open again sooner rather than later. All around the country, people need it for a lot more than a haircut.
If you didn't see Abbeyfealegood, you can watch it on the RTE Player.