Men’s Sheds on TG4
After two difficult years coping with the Covid 19 pandemic The Men’s Shed movement in Ireland has bounced back and is making a great impact once again on the lives of thousands. A sanctuary for men of all ages, providing company, friendship and support, the Men’s Sheds offer a welcome social outlet for members throughout Ireland.
In a new four-part series made by Macha Media for TG4, with support from Northern Ireland Screen’s Irish Language Broadcast Fund, ‘Men’s Sheds’ covers a year in the life of ten sheds right across the country, as the open their doors and introduce us to their members. Featuring sheds in Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Armagh, Dundalk and Dublin, the programme highlights the characters who belong to the sheds and the wide range of activities they do, from woodworking in Dundalk, online learning in Gaoth Dobhair, working out in Cahersiveen, beekeeping in Falcarragh, and vegetable growing in Corr na Móna, amongst many others.
The series is an emotional rollercoaster which follows the personal stories of men across all four provinces, in rural and in urban centres alike. With heart-warming stories of post-covid reopening, caring for the environment and supporting local communities, as well as poignant personal accounts of issues around mental health, family life, cancer, loneliness and loss, this observational documentary series shines a light on the significant positive role played by the Men’s Sheds for male health and well-being, especially in a society emerging from the Covid lockdowns.
Aodh Mac Fhloinn, a committee member of the Rosses Men’s shed based in Mín na Manrach outside Dungloe, took early retirement to become a full-time carer for his daughter Eibhlín, who was born with Down syndrome and diagnosed with autism. Aodh highlights the important role of the shed for men’s mental well-being, “I was initially reluctant to join, but since I started helping in the shed, I haven’t looked back. I realised that it was great for my own well-being. When I’m in the shed, I don’t think of what’s going on at home, bills or anything like that. It’s my own personal space.”
In Ballybrack, south Dublin, the Men’s Shed has a unique focus on mental health as Mark Larkin, shed coordinator explains, “It just so happened that the type of lads we had here were isolated socially and had no confidence in themselves. Somehow, they come here, and they realise and understand that they’re the same as everyone else. They end up getting that confidence and getting to know their community and by going out doing bits of work, suddenly they become part of their community.” The shed has become a lifeline for men in the community who suffer from depression and anxiety. Member, Brian Connolly makes the shed’s impact on his life very clear, “If it wasn’t for the shed I wouldn’t be here today.” Many of his fellow members nod in agreement.
The story of the Men’s Shed movement, as portrayed in this stirring four-part series, is one of friendship, trust, sharing and support, a story of companionship and compassion. The series provides a refreshing insight into men’s mental health issues and it will evoke and inspire, as we follow the personal journeys and projects carried out by the many characters of Ireland’s men’s sheds, who work and socialise ‘shoulder to shoulder’.
Men’s Sheds will air over four weeks, starting on Thursday 25 May at 8pm on TG4 and on the TG4 Player.