On Saturday, September 23rd, the Irish Men’s Sheds Association was honoured by the visit of His Excellent General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove to Balbriggan Men’s Shed. The visit, part of the Governor-General’s four-day itinerary in Ireland, emphasises once again the strong and vibrant links between men’s sheds in Ireland and Australia. His Excellency, his wife Lady Cosgrove, and Ambassador Richard Andrews were received by the men of Balbriggan Men’s Shed, as well as Barry Sheridan (CEO Irish Men’s Sheds Association), George Kelly (IMSA Chairman) and Eva Beirne (IMSA National Volunteer Coordinator).
The Governor-General, patron of the Australian Men’s Sheds Association, was struck by the similarity of the Balbriggan shed to those in his own country. “Absent the brogue, I could have been listening to one of our shedders talking with passion and sincerity about this marvellous movement”, he said. Sir Peter went on to remark that, “Men in their middle years can find themselves looking for a sense of community and purpose. They find it at the shed, producing things of beauty and utility”. The Governor-General got a hands-on experience of an Irish shed, helping the shedders paint a piece of timber for a buddy bench.
On behalf of the Irish Men’s Sheds Association, Barry Sheridan reflected on the close bonds of friendship and collaboration which exist between men’s sheds in Ireland and Australia. A small presentation of shed-crafted items was made and graciously received, and in return, Sir Peter presented Balbriggan Men’s Shed with a Governor-General’s Medal.
The visit was a tremendous honour for Balbriggan Men’s Shed and the Irish Men’s Sheds Association, and the Governor-General expressed his wish that President Michael D. Higgins – the patron of the IMSA- would make a reciprocal visit to a shed in Australia on his forthcoming visit.