Men’s Shed to Open in D4

The organisers of the Dublin 4 Men’s Shed, pictured last year near the ‘Area 51’ site.

By Peter McNamara

Men’s Sheds have been phenomenally successful in Ireland since the first one opened in 2009. Last May, Dublin 4 appeared to be on the verge of establishing its own Men’s Shed. In spite of huge local demand for this community facility, the Dublin 4 shed planners had run into a number of obstacles during the last year. Chief among them was the need for a temporary site. Thankfully, that problem appears to be solved. 

I spoke with Martin Byrne,
one of the key organisers.

“It great,” he told me. “Really great news. We finally have a temporary site. Dublin City Council are going to clean up part of our permanent space in Poolbeg, so that we can set up there for a while. It means we can start the D4 men’s shed in a temporary structure. And push on with organising a permanent space.”

The council had already granted a permanent site for the shed on the vacant area in the Poolbeg marina, near to the Stella Maris and Poolbeg Clubhouses. This neglected tract, wryly nicknamed ‘Area 51’, would be a nice fit for the Dublin 4 Men’s Shed. By setting up on the foundations of the old Poolbeg Club, this new community centre would be following on from those other great centres that have gone before it.

The shed organisers are going to use a shipping container to house the temporary shed. They have insurance for this sorted with FBD, so can get things started very soon. Declan Hayden of DCC has promised to organise the clean-up for the temporary site in the next few weeks. 

When I spoke with him, Martin Byrne seemed happy and relieved. And it isn’t hard to understand. The shed organisers were stuck in limbo for quite a while. Byrne expressed some frustration with local councillors on their lack of support, and in the nature of these things, it took Declan Hayden some time before he could get back to him with the good news. 

“It’s great this has come through,” Martin told me, “because it was a tricky situation, kind of a catch-22. We knew we had the permanent site up promised to us at the Poolbeg Docks. But that site has to be cleared out. And in order to get the funding to do the cleaning we needed to set up at a temporary location. The Men’s Shed needed to be a proper organisation with a location. Now that we have the little temporary site up there, we can start applying for different grants and assistance.”

A Life-Enhancing Space

The opening of a Dublin 4 men’s shed will bring good things to the area. The positive effects of having a local shed are undeniable. The Men’s Shed movement has been a phenomenal success in this country; Ireland has over 400 sheds, the largest concentration anywhere in the world. And this popularity is a testament to their effectiveness.

Research proves that taking part in a shed is hugely beneficial for men’s physical and mental health. Male-friendly environments like Men’s Sheds can support people in identifying ways to reduce their risk of illness and make positive lifestyle changes. What’s more, the existence of a Men’s Shed in a community addresses one of the biggest challenges facing both rural and urban Ireland today: social isolation.

Sheds are informal spaces where men are encouraged to come together and undertake hands-on activities. You might learn something new, teach something to someone else, or just pop in for a chat and a cup of tea. The movement started in Australia in the mid-1990s. The first community shed was set up here in Tipperary.

Men’s Sheds in Ireland engage in many diverse activities, but woodwork and crafts are the most popular. The Dublin 4 project is looking to harness the skills and knowledge inherent in Ringsend, namely the connection to the river. To that end, it will be called the Ringsend Community and Maritime Men’s Shed. Part of the shed will be a dry dock, for repairing boats. 

There will also be other facilities at the D4 shed, for general repairs. It will be a place where someone might borrow a tool, or get some DIY advice. D4 shedders might also carry out small repairs on homewares like cribs, or appliances. Any fee that has to be charged would be returned back to the organisation, to pay for whatever was needed to keep things tipping along. 

Huge Benefits for a
Small Cost

Almost a year has passed since this paper first ran an article about setting up a Dublin 4 shed. It’s a credit to Martin Byrne and the other shed organisers that there has finally been real progress on the issue. There’s been no lack of energy from the planners, or lack of demand in the community.

“People really wanted to join,” Martin told me. “They were asking me about it all the time. We were trying and trying but I didn’t know what to say to them. I’m glad to be able to get the thing up and going at last.”

With the news about the temporary site, Dublin 4 finally looks set to enjoy the benefits of having a local Men’s Shed. The next hurdle will be the funding for the permanent site. 

According to Byrne, Jim Hargis at St. Andrew’s Resource Centre has been very helpful with advice on where and how to look for support. It’s seems a worthy cause indeed. As far as value for money goes, you would be hard pressed to find something else that can bring so many benefits, at a personal and a community level.