The Hardware Journal looks at Men’s Sheds and its growing success in Ireland.
Men’s Sheds are social spaces where men can share skills, make friends and work together on community projects. The rise of Men’s Sheds in Ireland has been meteoric. Building on a concept which first emerged in Australia in the 1990s, the Irish Men’s Sheds Association is relatively new, founded as recently as 2011. Since then, the movement has grown rapidly, and now has a presence in every county on the island. Indeed, with 460 sheds island-wide, Ireland enjoys the highest concentration of Men’s Sheds per head of population in the world. In recognition of the great work done, in 2019, the European Parliament awarded Irish Men’s Sheds Association the highly prestigious European Citizens’ Prize for exceptional community achievement.
Barry Sheridan, Chief Executive of the Irish Men’s Sheds Association, attributes the success of the movement to an unmet need in Irish society; “I think there’s a perception sometimes that men don’t want to connect with others, they don’t want to reach out and engage with their communities. Men’s Sheds have proven that that’s just not true. Through the sheds, men find a purpose and that bond they’ve been lacking. The incredible growth and success we’ve seen in recent years is testament to that”.
Sheridan agrees that sheds have played a role in revitalising communities nationwide: “We’ve got to the stage now where sheds are actually seen as a community resource, and that’s great. We know all about the benefits for the individual, but it goes beyond that, to the families and communities of the members”.
Building Communities Together – Topline & Irish Men’s Sheds
Last year, the Topline Group launched its partnership with the Irish Men’s Shed Association, with the partnership’s tagline – ‘Building Communities Together’ – attesting to what Men’s
Sheds and Topline members are actively contributing to every day in local communities across Ireland.
As part of this broad-ranging partnership, Topline is committed to investing to help local sheds continue their great work. A Men’s Sheds Community Connections Program was launched last year, under which Topline members supplied over 200 Sheds with an extensive range of DIY equipment to assist with their community projects, whilst over 180 Sheds received fuel and lighting support for the winter months. Further support from Topline is scheduled throughout 2019 – including a new ‘All Hands on Deck’ campaign, under which Topline members will be working with their local Men’s Sheds on community-based DIY projects; and the second year of the ‘Topline Shed Series’, a craft-based competition which will see over 140 Shed compete for a major prize supplied by Topline. Now a major event in the annual Sheds’ calendar, the 2019 competition theme is ‘Where We Come From’, focusing on the history and heritage of local communities, and the final
takes place on Wednesday, 22nd May.
Hugh O’Donnell, Chief Executive of Topline Group, is really excited about the partnership: “Since the beginning of the partnership, Topline members all over Ireland have been
hugely impressed by the skills, craftmanship and creativity of Irish Men’s Sheds and the great work they do in local communities in every county in Ireland. With a presence in
over 160 communities, Topline members share an important common interest with Irish Men’s Sheds to support these communities and we are delighted to be their exclusive DIY partner to help them continue their fantastic work”. Barry Sheridan, commented; “The great thing about Topline is that they share our ethos and our vision for Ireland’s communities. The Topline stores are community-based and community-focused, and that makes them a great fit for our Sheds”.