The Irish Men’s Sheds Association (IMSA) has received two major awards in the space of 24 hours, reflecting the growing impact and reputation of the movement. On Tuesday afternoon, IMSA Chief Executive Barry Sheridan accepted the prestigious European Citizens’ Prize on behalf of the movement at a ceremony in Brussels.
The European Citizens’ Prize recognises projects and initiatives that facilitate cross-border co-operation or promote mutual understanding within the EU. Previous Irish winners include the GAA and Foróige, while Inner City Helping Homeless was also honoured in the current round of awards.
Speaking at the ceremony in Brussels, IMSA CEO Barry Sheridan said, “This is a real milestone in the history of the men’s sheds movement. We’re incredibly honoured and grateful to Sean Kelly MEP and his colleagues for nominating us. The event itself was a wonderful celebration of the resilience of communities throughout Europe, and to be included among the winners is a testament to our 10,000 members throughout the island”.
Meanwhile, back in Dublin, the equally prestigious Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI) Awards also honoured the Irish Men’s Sheds Association. Each year, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland recognise and reward socially innovative projects at spark, seed and scale stages of development.
This year’s awards saw eight innovative and socially impactful projects recognised and funded through Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, while three SEI alumni, including the IMSA, were announced as SEI Impact Partners. These partners – As I Am, CyberSafe Ireland and the Irish Men’s Sheds Association – will receive further supports and resources through SEI, as part of its commitment to scaling socially transformative projects.
At the SEI Awards ceremony in the Mansion House, SEI CEO Darren Ryan paid tribute to the rapid expansion of men’s sheds in seven short years. The event closed with Kilbeggan Men’s Shed’s T.P. O’Gorman explaining the impact of men’s sheds on his own life.
“Bit by bit, we as a society have come to accept that there’s no one way to be a man. And sheds are just the same. Of the 400 sheds in Ireland, no two are alike, and that’s absolutely fine. From the master craftsmen, to the walking clubs such as our own in Kilbeggan, to the social tea-drinkers and the green-fingered gardeners, every shed is unique”.
The grand finale of the event saw men’s sheds choir members from Dundalk and Kilcock emerge from the audience to earn a standing ovation with their rousing rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem”.
IMSA Chairman Eoin Martyn and Secretary Frank McNamara were also present at the event, and expressed their admiration for the socially significant work down by all organisations in attendance.
The next major national men’s sheds event is November’s Killarney National Park rhododendron cull, which will see 50 men’s sheds members from throughout Ireland travel to Killarney to tackle the scourge of invasive rhododendron ponticum.