Why I have joined my local Men's Shed
While on my way to our local post office recently, I ran in to a friend who mentioned he was about to visit the Men's Shed. "The what?" I said. "Our new men's shed" he replied, "Follow me, we can have a cup of tea there"
Until then, I was totally unaware that Kilcock possessed such an asset. It was no more than a short stroll away and what a great place it turned out to be.
On entering, the first thing I saw was a large open courtyard partially surrounded by larch lap fencing and containing neatly constructed raised beds filled with various vegetables and divided by paths. It was a sunny day and a few men were planting and tidying while others were relaxing on garden chairs.
Passing through another doorway, I found myself in what seemed like a cross between a club premises and a workshop that also included a kitchen area, while at the far end of the room there was a long bench with a huge collection of woodworking tools. I already knew many of those present and the atmosphere was so friendly and relaxing I sat down to enjoy the tea and the chat.
It was mid-morning and some of the members were tucking in to plates of bacon, egg and sausage. The aroma of delicious freshly cooked food was seductive and an hour passed happily as people came and went.
Before leaving, I made sure I was signed up to join. Currently the Kilcock Men's Shed is open two mornings a week but it is planned to extend this to at least five days, organise classes for various skills like woodworking, gardening and cooking and also visit other "sheds" around Ireland and share ideas.
The Men's Shed movement started in Australia in 1995 when a conference was held to discuss the increasing problems there relating to men's health. Back then there was little encouragement for men to socialise (outside the pub) and most men were unwilling to discuss their feelings and wellbeing.
Now this all sounds very much like modern Ireland where we still have a sort of "macho" culture that limits men's social life to sports clubs or the pub. Have you ever heard a man say he was fed up looking at the four walls of his home and would like some company?