Birth of a Shed
Clondalkin Men’s Shed has been in existence for five or six years, says shedder Tom.
Tom and Chair Frank Cousins had originally started the shed. Tom remembers the moment he was inspired to start a shed, coming from the Asgard boat.
“I was at home one night and Nationwide came on,” Tom says, “it was about a shed down in Tyrell’s Boat Yard in Arklow. The Asgard boat was supposed to be going back to the yard, but it never got there. But I seen that the boys in one of the sheds in Arklow had made a boat in memory of the Asgard. I thought ‘I’d love that’. I’m big into boats, I love them. I thought the idea of a shed was brilliant, so I set out to set one up.
A religious swimmer, Tom and some friends always spend Mondays at the local swimming pool where he tested the mood for a men’s shed. “I asked the lads did they see this episode of Nationwide, a couple said yes. So I said I’m looking to set up a men’s shed. They all thought it was a smashing idea”.
Tom was not alone in his quest to set up a men’s shed in Clondalkin. He had found that another local man, Frank Cousins, was also looking to set up a shed, but couldn’t get the men to come together.
Tom and Frank met, and that really is where the Clondalkin Men’s Shed was born. Out of sheer determination, the men went through the usual processes of setting up a shed. Running information meetings for interested men, deciding on committee roles, and insurance of course.
But a home is really what the Clondalkin Men’s Shed needed. It can often be the biggest obstacle for shedders.
“It took us an awful long time to get a place”, recalls Tom. The shed had originally started on a premises on the Boot Road, but when the landlord put the rent up the shedders needed to find somewhere more affordable.
Mark Ward, now Sinn Féin TD and Mayor of South Dublin at the time, informed the Clondalkin Shed about a local nun, Sister Kathleen Barrett, who had space for the men.
A bit taken a back, Tom asked to meet with Sister Barrett first, along with a few members of the community. Located in a housing estate, Sister Barrett ran an after school club for local children, but as she was retiring she wanted the site to remain in community use. The shedders weren’t sure if the community would welcome them, but the Clondalkin Men’s Shed were welcomed with open arms into the small housing estate of Mayfield Court.
Sister Barrett also had a portacabin attached to the house she was offering the shedders, but Tom says the roof was falling in and it needed an awful lot of work. “But here we are now,” gleams Tom.
A shed that has gone strength from strength, Clondalkin Men’s Shed currently has around 25 members. Late last year, the shed was asked to take on the management of a community garden by the Clondalkin Addiction Support Programme (CASP). Tom notes that the garden is quite beautiful, boasting a polytunnel as well. The shed has some grand plans for the garden, they’re currently making beehives at the moment for it.
An interesting and diverse shed, Clondalkin Men’s Shed is always open to new members with the shed activities including woodwork, making buddy benches, art and gardening.