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  • Men’s Shed Ardara win Flogas Ireland “Reimagine Drogheda” contest

    Ahead of the much-anticipated  2022 Aintree Grand National, former champion jockey Nina Carberry was the special guest at a Flogas/Mens’ Shed event at the Millmount Museum to celebrate a legendary Irish champion racehorse named Drogheda who, like his modern counterpart Tiger Roll, also won against the odds.

    Despite given no chance by the racing scribes of the day, the fearless six-year-old 25-1 outsider and his equally fearless jockey John Gurley nevertheless won the 1898 Aintree Grand National in a then record time of nine minutes and 42 seconds in a blinding snowstorm, in which his last mile was faster than his first.

    ‘Drogheda’ was born and reared in the original Knockbrack House on Donore Road in Drogheda, the site of which is now the head office of Flogas Ireland.  To celebrate his feat, as energy partner of the Irish Men’s Shed Association (IMSA),  Flogas Ireland created and sponsored an artistic competition to ‘Reimagine Drogheda’.

    Flogas invited IMSA members on the island of Ireland to submit artistic entries that would symbolise the horse and capture his indomitable spirit. The work could be a painting, art installation, a garden, recycled material, woodwork, collage, sculpture, poem or whatever the imagination suggested.

    The competition had been announced in early 2020, extended due to lockdown and the overall winner was the Ardara Mens Shed in Donegal. Using material that included horseshoe nails, timber, Donegal tweed, leather and even bone, the members created a stunning 3D collage in which the extensive media coverage generated by the horse’s shock win also formed a central part of the piece.

    Their artistic creations were on display at the prizegiving ceremony hosted by Flogas at the Millmount, attended by representatives of the winner and runner up Sheds.  As well as Nina Carberry, the guests included Flogas brand ambassador, former Olympian David Gillick;  Dom Gradwell, the great grandson of Drogheda’s owner and Enda Egan, CEO, Irish Mens Shed Association.

    The runners up were the Drogheda Men’s Shed, Doon & District Limerick, Kinlough Men’s Shed in Leitrim and Tullyallen Men’s Shed in Louth.  Dundalk Men’s Shed and Clane Men’s Shed also came in for special mention.

    John Rooney, managing director, Flogas Ireland presented members of the Ardara Men’s Shed with the winning voucher for €2,500. He said, “Congratulations to the Ardara members on their well-deserved win and a huge thank to you to all the other Sheds that submitted top-class entries.  The competition struck a chord with the members, and I think it’s because the Grand National is such an iconic race, few others come close. It takes an incredibly special horse to win it and Drogheda was one of those. The competition is a fitting tribute to his memory.”

    Ardara Men’s Shed in Donegal has been active since its formation nine years ago. The members wanted to design a horse in motion, using recycled material wherever they could. They met via Zoom and worked on individual sections at home when in-person wasn’t possible during lockdowns.

    Michael Molloy, representing Ardara Men’s Shed,  said, “We’re over the moon to have won. It took us a while to come up with the concept, but once it was agreed, everybody threw themselves into it. The project got us over the hurdles of lockdown and kept our participating members going when times got a bit tough. Winning the competition was the icing on the cake and thanks to Flogas for the wonderful idea.”

    Enda Egan, CEO, Irish Men’s Sheds Association added “The standard of entry was just unbelievable. The entrants all really took to the theme and interpreted it in different and creative ways. I know the task was a beacon of light for many sheds over the past couple of years, and it certainly brought the best out of them. Flogas really get what sheds are all about, and we’re delighted with their support”.

    The  panel of judges were John Crumlish, chief executive of the Galway International Arts Festival, Vicki Donlon, commercial manager, Horse Racing Ireland, Dom Gradwell, great grandson of Drogheda’s owner George Gradwell and Flogas brand ambassador David Gillick.