Born in 1838 in St. Stephens Green, Dublin Lucinda (Lucy) Byrne started her hairdressing career in 1850 aged 12. She carried on her hairdressing profession by visiting and attending to the grooming needs of the nobility of Dublin in their own homes. In 1860 she married John Roche and so began the Roche era in Hairdressing. Lucy and John had seven children – five sons and two daughters. Four sons became barbers and one of the daughters a hairdresser. It was their eldest son Thomas Roche that opened the first barber shop under the Roche name at 9 Haddington Road, Dublin in 1878. Lucy then opened a barber shop in 1879 at 60 North King Street, Dublin and then moving in 1889 to 31 Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin. Other family members had shops in Capel Street, Winetavern Street and Wood Quay. Nicholas, another son worked as a ships barber on transatlantic routes before settling in America in 1911.
Thomas Roche ran his business in Haddington Road for 9 years before moving it
to 34 North Strand Road, Dublin in 1887. This 1890’s north city salon was reputed to be the most hygienic in Dublin, decorated extensively with marble and tile. It had seven hairdressing points to ensure efficient service. In 1880 Thomas had married Anne Foley, they had three sons and three daughters.
The three sons became barbers. The youngest son Joseph married Eileen Keane in 1927 and they lived above the North Strand shop before moving to Kimmage on Dublin’s southside in 1934. Joseph or Joe as he was known took over the family business in 1930, in 1941 a German bomb destroyed Roche & Sons 34 North Strand Road. Ten months later Joe Roche opened Roches at 153 Lower Kimmage Road, Dublin which is still in business today. Joe and Eileen had seven sons and a daughter, five of his sons and his daughter followed in the hairdressing tradition working in the Kimmage establishment.
The eldest son Brendan took over the business in 1956 and a ladies salon was established in 1957 at the rear of the barbershop. His son Donal now manages the Kimmage barbershop since Brendan retired. Brendan is a qualified Trichologist. Second son Vincent opened his barbershop on The Drimnagh Road in 1952, the fourth son Fergus relocated the ladies salon upstairs along with his sister Maura in 1962. Maura worked there until 1973 . The fifth son Kevin established his barbershop in Churchtown in 1979 . The sixth son Desmond has his barbershop in Baldoyle which opened in 1988 along with his two sons Colin and Conor.
In 1973 Maura began teaching hairdressing at Crumlin College of Business and Technical Studies and went on to be head of the Hairdressing Department, Department of Eduacation Examiner for the National Hairdressing Trades Certificates and External Examiner for the National Council for Vocational Awards until her retirement in 2008. Maura had three sons with her husband Christopher William Clarke (Willie), two of them followed in the family tradition. Eoin who is now the National Educator for a large Hairdressing chain Hairhouse Warehouse in Australia and Ciaran who has three barbershops, one in Kildare Town which opened in 2002, one in Monasterevin that opened in 2007 and one in Newbridge that opened in2018.
In 2005 Maura Clarke was one of the first and the first woman to be inducted into the the Irish Hairdressers Federation Hall of Leaders, her brother Brendan was also inducted into the Hall of Leaders three years later in 2008. Two icons in the one family.
To read an in depth interview with Ciaran Clarke about the history of Roches Barbershops please click here