Sheds move online
With the temporary closure of men’s sheds across Ireland, some men’s sheds have moved online to continue to connect with one another, finding new and innovative ways to interact.
One such shed is the Naas Community Men’s Shed, based in County Kildare. Norman Farragher, Chair of the shed, explains that the men have set up two WhatsApp groups. “We have a WhatsApp group, there’s 52 members out of the 60 involved in one. We also have a ‘musical WhatsApp’ group, who share music sessions with all members in both groups”
Norman says that since Friday 13th March the shed has been temporarily closed, but the decision to set up their WhatsApp group was made so that shedders could send each other musical videos of themselves, like a virtual men’s shed.
“The members are enjoying it,” says Norman, “because they can see each other, and they can listen to the songs. They’re starting to develop it further, after they play, they’ll have a cup of tea and chat with one another on WhatsApp. Outside that, we have the general banter, sharing videos, jokes, funny stories”.
Another shed moving online is the Waterford Estuary Men’s Shed, based in Passage East in County Waterford. Secretary Noel Shanaghy says that the group recently started a ‘virtual art group’. “We set up a WhatsApp group, and one of our members Eddie suggested these YouTube videos where an artist shows you how to paint a certain scene or what have you and they bring you through it”.
The Waterford Estuary art group had only started last autumn, but the virtual art group means that members can continue to engage with one another around their art passion. “It’s been working quite well,” Noel adds, “it means that we can all work off the same project even though we’re all in our homes doing it. When your painting is done you send a picture of it into the WhatsApp group so everyone can see”.
Liam O’Gogain, member of An Scioból Men’s Shed in Donegal has gone a step further than WhatsApp and is currently hosting Facebook Live music sessions.
Liam and a number of others perform under the banner of ‘Meitheal Ceol’ which he describes as a movement of such. The group, before the virus hit, was meeting every Wednesday in the men’s shed in Gweedore. Having done livestreaming before, Liam explains that the group needed move totally online to help people deal with isolation. “We know what social isolation is like, because we live in the middle of nowhere and we’d be aware of the social isolation that will emerge from this crisis”. With two song books of over 500 songs, Liam and the Meitheal live streams every night from 7pm – 8pm and is asking shedders and others to join them.
For some shedders, messaging platforms like WhatsApp or social media may be out of reach for them, due to the technology or internet in their local area. The Irish Men’s Sheds Association continues to operate normally and provide support and advice to shedders on 01 891 6150 or firstname.lastname@example.org.