As Men’s Sheds become more and more popular around the island, Changing Ireland attends the very first meeting of the Pullough branch.

Declan Costello addressed the first meeting of Pullough Men’s Shed, held in the local (award-winning) community shop.

“Us men are supposed to talk side by side, not face to face. So we work together well that way,” he said.

Declan is a community worker with Offaly Local Development Company and he was there to lend support and tell prospective members what other Sheds do.

“Here’s a flavour of what Sheds are doing in Tullamore, Clara, Kilcormac and Edenderry: they’re making wheelbarrows; they’re making buddy-benches for school playgrounds. If a child is being left behind or bullied, the child can sit on the bench and older kids will come along to play with them.

“Another Shed makes kayaks. Another produced beehives. You can produce bird boxes, garden furniture, fairy gardens… Whatever you like. Or act as stewards for the annual Darkness Into Light walk. It’s up to you.

“Some Sheds get involved in Tidy Towns projects.

“And they are all going well in Offaly. However, some are unsure about their locations. You are lucky. Usually, when I meet lads like yourselves, they don’t have a place. You have your shed already, which is very generous of Joe [Bracken, owner of the building the community shop is in],” said Declan.

More than 422 Sheds in Ireland, 10,000 people attend weekly, two new sheds open every week

Graphic: Men’s Shed (map) and Changing Ireland (text).

Joe told the men they were welcome to meet in a shed at the back of his former shop.

“We’ll have a chat and a craic and get things going,” he said.

“We just need to put in a few benches,” said one of the men in attendance.

They talked about plans to visit the Men’s Shed in Tullamore – a shed so busy it is open five days a week.

Said one potential member, licking his lips: “They’re in an old school that has a kitchen. One of the men is a chef. He asks them what they want to eat, he goes off and does the shopping – €3 or €4 a day and he cooks for everyone.

“Is there a chef here?”

People looked around.

“No! We’ve no chef.”

However, what Pullough Men’s Shed’s members do have is lots of enthusiasm.

Since that first meeting, their Shed has been a great success locally and continues to contribute to the village’s development.

Interested in reading more about the state of Ireland’s community development sector? Check out our latest issue.