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Busy making buddy benches in the Men's Shed at Shannon. Photograph by John Kelly.

Clare men glad to be back in the Shed

After an enforced closure due to Covid-19 restrictions, Shannon’s Men’s Shed members are meeting up once again

IT has been a long and trying hiatus, but the Shannon Men’s Shed is up and running again.

With older men at a particular risk of social isolation, the Men’s Shed offers an important outlet, but Covid meant that it was closed and its members were denied the opportunity to interact with one another.

For the last few weeks they have been going to the club’s premises and spokesman Christy Collins said they are very pleased to be getting back to normality.

“We had been closed for 15 to 18 months really, so the men were absolutely delighted to be back. There are a lot of men living on their own and everything was closed down. As you know a lot of men wouldn’t be going shopping, so they could end up inside watching the television.”

One of the projects they are working on involves making pens for ‘rescue hedgehogs’ in Broadford, while they are working on a number of items for local schools.

“We’re doing a buddy bench, a picnic bench and a bug hotel for Clonmoney National School. They’re ready to go. We have a buddy bench and a picnic bench for Stonehall National School.

“We had these started before the Covid, but then everything got shut down, so there’s a bit of a tailback now, but we’re coming back to normality.”

They are now also conducting a walking group on Friday mornings, in addition to the other gatherings on Tuesday and Thursday.

“We had a walking group started before the Covid, and sometimes it was going during the Covid, but then we were told to stop, we couldn’t be walking beside each other. Now on Friday mornings we meet in the industrial estate and walk around there for three quarters of an hour to an hour. It’s a bit of exercise for the lads and they love it.”

Christy hopes another social event they used to run will resume in the coming months.

“Every second Wednesday of the month we used to have a sing-song over in the shed in the evenings. Anyone who came in the door their name was taken down and you had to sing, or say a poem or tell some kind of a story. It was great craic and we must start that off again.

“It’ll probably be the New Year now, this year has nearly gone. A few of the lads play the guitar and it’s great craic. A lot of lads don’t go to the pub and it’s nice to go to a place where you can have a cup of tea, a sing song and the craic.”

Speaking about the development of the shed, he said, “It started in 2012, in Ballycasey in the Craft Centre. We were sharing the building with other groups in the community, which wasn’t suitable because all you could do was have meetings and tea and a chat.

“We got onto Senator Tony Mulcahy in 2014 and he got onto Shannon Commercial Properties and they gave us the building we’re in today. We’re very lucky to get it, there’s three workspaces and the meeting room.”

He feels it is very important for men to have this type of outlet, where they can do something useful together.

“If you put a man into a nursing home, and it’s lovely and shiny and clean, he’ll sit in the corner. But put a man into a shed and he’ll get up and do something, even if it’s only to sweep the floor. It’s a great outlet for men.”

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.
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