Men's Shed is a hub of County Cork community

From choirs to walks, outings to woodwork, Kinsale Men’s Shed has something for everyone, reveals ADRIENNE ACTON
Men's Shed is a hub of County Cork community

ACTIVE GROUP: Malcolm Hall, Gerry O’Neill, Clwyd Evans, Brendan

THE idea of the Men’s Shed — non-profit local organisations that provide a space for craftwork and social interaction — may have originated in Australia, but communities in Cork city and county have embraced the idea. A case in point is Kinsale Men’s shed.

It began five years ago when an old timber yard in The Glen was offered as a location. The men grabbed it with both hands.

In a short amount of time, they have managed to create a warm, friendly, inclusive, and educational hub of the community.

On my recent visit, I was greeted warmly and introduced to all there. Tea, scones and banter was had.

The enthusiasm for their projects was palpable, as was their passion for every new undertaking. Their list of achievements is admirable and the plans for 2020 are so well thought out that every member of the community can join in and benefit.

Over the past 12 months, the group have hosted patients from the community hospital, entertaining them with music from solo performers and with their own male voice choir, Manners. These outings are greatly enjoyed by the patients, shed members and visitors.

Members of Manners getting ready to perform at the Christmas crib. Kinsale Men's Shed feature
Members of Manners getting ready to perform at the Christmas crib. Kinsale Men's Shed feature

Author Gerald Butler gave a talk and a slideshow on his book, The Lightkeeper, and talks have also been given on nutrition and healthy living, as well as one entitled ‘Irish men who have a part in military history around the World’, given by Ron Howko, a U.S. military veteran.

The men have gone on an outing to Sheeps Head, and taken a trip on the newly rebuilt sailing ship Ilen.

The third Tuesday of every month sees members cooking a dinner for the community in the shed. Songs, poetry and music are on hand as people mingle and chat with their neighbours and friends, old and new.

The walking group meet every Saturday at 10.30am at the shed and head off for a healthy stroll and catch up. The choir Manners meet every Monday night under the direction of Kevin Goggin. The men took delivery of a new Yamaha piano recently, funded by the choir themselves.

Their 2020 calendar was launched in December and more than 500 copies were sold. All proceeds will go to the upkeep of the shed. Their Christmas party hosted 55 people.

There is a literary group, an arts exhibition, they maintain the gardens at the local hospital, they work with the local tidy towns and transition year students, and on the community orchard.

A game of pool at Kinsale Men's Shed.
A game of pool at Kinsale Men's Shed.

In the coming months, the Men’s Shed will be hosting the Cardiff Arms Park Male Voice Choir in St Multose Church, a global music mystery tour, and a talk by Dr Jim Jackson on his life experience, ‘From Ireland to Pakistan’. The list goes on…

While admiring the fairy doors, the wheelbarrows, lamp stands and sugans in the woodwork shop, some of the men told me that without this shed, many of their group wouldn’t have any social interaction with their community. Many have found a new lease of life within these four walls. They have found a new passion for working with their hands and a confidence that has brought them out of themselves.

This amazing place is about wellbeing. It’s about friendship. It’s about caring for the community and showing the extraordinary talent that is within us all.

All upcoming events are advertised in the Kinsale Parish Newsletter and in the KMS newsletter, or pop in and meet the gang — there’s a warm welcome assured.

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