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A shed load of men gather on Leeside

Wednesday, 12th September, 2018 5:01pm

Michael Olney

The largest Men’s Sheds gathering in the world happened in Cork yesterday when 500 members from across the globe convened at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Under the theme ‘Connecting Communities’ the event, which was officially opened by Lord Mayor Cllr Mick Finn, aimed to reinforce the importance of Men’s Sheds to towns and villages throughout the country and the world.

Speaking to the Cork Independent, CEO Men’s Sheds Ireland, Barry Sheridan, said: “The purpose of Men’s Sheds is to break down the social isolation that exists for an awful lot of men.

“Men aren’t very good at communicating sometimes and we’re not very good at knowing where to go to meet new people or to connect with our community. For a lot of men the Shed is that safe and secure environment where they feel okay to do that.”

Speakers at the gathering included former Munster player Donncha O’Callaghan, athletics star David Gillick, philanthropist Alan Kerins and a number of Cork GAA stars including Billy Morgan and Larry Tompkins.

“We really didn’t want the gathering to be just a regular conference, that wouldn’t really fit with our lads, so we based it on learning from each other and how we connect with our communities,” said Mr Sheridan.

“So basically, we’ll be telling stories from sheds all over the island. We’ve got every county in the country represented at the gathering.”

Men’s Sheds was started in Australia in the early 2000s and has since become a worldwide phenomenon.

Mr Sheridan continued: “We’ve got more sheds in Ireland per head of population, than any other country in the world, which shows that there is a need for the sheds in the country. We’ve gone from having zero sheds to having over 400 within six or seven years with over 30 in Cork which is the second highest concentration outside of Dublin.

“The reason it worked so well in Ireland is that we didn’t change what they did in Australia. We kept the same simple concept that worked so well over there. I’ve visited sheds in Australia and you could be walking into a shed in Passage West.

“People often think that a Men’s Shed is just a workshop where guys make things with their hands, but it’s really a place where men can come together and get involved with working for their local communities. We often joke that the most important tool in any shed is the kettle, because that’s where the lads will sit around and chat,” he said.Michael Olney

news@corkindependent.com

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