Last week, Ferrybank native and award winning hairdresser Michael Doyle spoke about
his school-going days and his introduction to the trade in which, over the course of a lived well lived, he was well and truly flourished in.
Michael also spoke about the death of his mother when he had just completed his final year at Secondary School, travelling to Germany to work in building sites before he took up an offer to work with Oliver Bible here in Waterford.
Michael then headed to the UK and set up a partnership in Cambridge but after three years he returned to Waterford.
Once again, alas, a tragic death played a major role in his life as he explained. “When I came back from England my youngest sister Elaine’s daughter Amy was killed at the age of three years. I was her Godfather and so she was my responsibility.
“I had made commitments just as Mrs O’Connor had done with me when my mother died and I wasn’t going to walk away from my responsibilities. My father was also heartbroken because Amy was the apple of his eye.
“Thankfully, Elaine’s other daughter Lisa received her degree in fine art recently and her son Adam has completed his Leaving Cert so that’s good. But all you can do is learn to live with tragedies like that, but you never really get over it though.
“So after a few weeks I decided to try my luck in Dublin and I travelled up there with very little money in my pocket. I went into Peter Mark for an interview and they asked me to work on their training programme for a few days to try and prove myself.
“I turned down that offer because my CV spoke for itself and I hope that doesn’t sound cocky but they eventually agreed to take me on and, apart from nine months away from the company during all of that time, I’ve been with Peter Mark ever since 1979.”
Michael admits that being a hairdresser can at times not be all it’s cracked up to be.
“You could get a call informing you that you have to be at a photo shoot at 6am on a Sunday morning on top of some mountain some place but that’s part and parcel of the job.
“And to be honest I enjoy days like that because you get the chance to watch experts at work in different areas and you learn something new every time you so something like that.” A resident of Kilmainham, Michael is the Creative Director of Peter Mark at Stephen’s Green in Dublin and remains in demand from a range of personalities as he outlined to me.
“Yeah, I’m lucky enough to have gotten to know various people from all walks of life. A very good friend of mine is Andrea Roche and she asked be to style her hair for her wedding in Ibiza and she looked stunning on the day. I suppose the fact that both of us are country people brought us close together.
“On another day, I got a call asking me if I was prepared to travel to Florence to style Vogue Williams for her big day and that was great because I had never been to Florence and it was an amazing experience because many big magazines covered that (wedding) including ‘Hello’ so I got a huge reaction from that wedding.
“Jodie Kidd and Claudine Palmer are smashing girls also but I’ll say nothing about Tyra Banks! Another beautiful lady is Yvonne Connolly. She was of course married to Ronan Keating and I have known her since she was 19. There are many more and the majority of them are really nice down to earth people.”
Michael likes to come back home to Waterford as often as possible but his hectic schedule makes it difficult.
“I don’t get down to Waterford as often as I would like, to be honest although I love it when I do get the opportunity and I stay with Elaine. I love walking the Comeragh Mountains with her dog Toby because it’s the most peaceful feeling on earth. It’s so lovely to be able to relax and chill out.
“My sisters call me if they are going to some sort of occasion and I’ll give them advice – and if they know that I’m coming down, then I’ll get a call telling me to bring my scissors!”
Michael has also appeared on lots of television shows, including XPOSE and many other daytime and evening shows on RTE and it’s something he enjoys.
“I was conscious at first about how I looked and I how I sounded but I am used to it now. You just have to be honest and try not to put on an act. At the end of the day it’s all about the model and not about me.”
Michael remembers one particular day when an elderly lady came in to his salon and it left an indelible impression on him.
“I received a telephone call asking me if I would cut and style the hair of an Austrian lady who had never been to a hairdresser in her life. She was 90 years old and her hair was extremely long.
“Needless to say we gave her the full treatment and it proved to be a very emotional occasion for her and indeed for me. It was a very special day indeed.”
Concluding, Michael looked ahead to the future. “To have won so many awards and to have been honoured in the Royal Albert Hall and to be have been lauded in Paris recently (where he received the Order of the Chevalier) was great.
“It’s wonderful to get recognition within your industry but I also enjoy the educational side of my work as an educator with L’Oreal in Ireland and England. I’m the only person to have done that.
“I love the excitement and the general craziness that is part and parcel of this business. Every day is different and that makes the job wonderfully fulfilling and I am looking to the future with optimism.”
Michael has certainly come a long way since he began cutting hair at the age of 12 in Ferrybank and long may he continue to reign supreme in his chosen profession.
Quite simply, Michael Doyle is a cut above the rest.