The Men’s Shed movement is having a true bounce back, much to the delight of Donegal men who are benefiting from the sanctuaries of support, friendship and craic.
As we emerge from isolating Covid times, the Men’s Sheds have been to the fore of providing a healthy social outlet for people across the country.
A number of Donegal men will star in a new four-part series on TG4 covering a year in the life of ten sheds right across the country.
‘Men’s Sheds’ which starts on Thursday 25 May at 8pm, visits three Donegal sheds based in Cloich Cheann Fhaola, Gaoth Dobhair and Na Rosann.
One shed which features in the series is located in the former national school in Mín na Manrach, just outside Dungloe.
Committee member Aodh Mac Fhloinn highlights the sense of camaraderie and community spirit within the shed, “We were looking for a project that would involve all the members and we came up with the idea of building a replica of Thomas the Tank Engine. We built Thomas at the shed and then he was placed on the old railway line in Burtonport. That’s what the shed is all about; people working together and the members supporting each other to help themselves.”
Aodh acknowledges how important the shed has been for him personally, given that he left his work to become a full-time carer for his daughter Eibhlín, who was born with Down syndrome and diagnosed with autism.
Aodh said: “I was initially reluctant to join the shed, but since I started helping out, I have never looked back. I soon realised that the shed was great for my own mental well-being. When I’m in the shed, I don’t think of what’s going on at home, I don’t think of bills or anything like that. It’s my own personal space.”
Speaking about the importance of the Men’s shed to him, 83 year-old Ronald Turk, from Bun an Inbhir in Gaoth Dobhair said, “At least when I’m coming here, I have somewhere to go; I know I have to get ready to come down here. It helps me put the day in and it’s really enjoyable meeting up with everyone else for a good bit of company and conversation.”
Cathal Ó Fearraigh from Machaire Rabhartaigh is a member of the Cloich Cheann Fhaola shed, which is based in Baile Chonaill and he was instrumental in setting up their beekeeping project last year, “Not everyone in the shed is interested in the honey, but a few of us are and that keeps us going. Everyone has their own wee project. That’s the best thing about the Men’s Shed; you can follow your own little dreams. There’s something in the sheds for everyone.”
The story of the Men’s Shed movement, as portrayed in this stirring four-part series, is one of friendship, trust, sharing and support, a story of companionship and compassion. The series provides a refreshing insight into men’s mental health issues and it will evoke and inspire, as we follow the personal journeys and projects carried out by the many characters of Ireland’s men’s sheds, who work and socialise ‘shoulder to shoulder’.
Men’s Sheds will air over four weeks, starting on Thursday 25 May at 8pm on TG4 and on the TG4 Player. The series was made by Macha Media for TG4, with support from Northern Ireland Screen’s Irish Language Broadcast Fund.