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Dublin: 9 °C Tuesday 19 November, 2019
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President Higgins named as patron of Irish Men's Sheds Association

The association provides safe, friendly and inclusive environments for men from all walks of life to gather and work on projects.

President Michael D Higgins
President Michael D Higgins
Image: Wanderley Massafelli/Photocall Ireland

PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins has been named as the patron of the Irish Men’s Sheds Association.

The association said that President Higgins has become patron “at a time of immense growth for the organisation”. There are now over 120 men’s sheds in Ireland and the organisation has been growing at a rate of about one shed per week for the last 18 months.

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Men’s sheds “aim to provide safe, friendly and inclusive environments where men from all walks of life can gather and work on meaningful projects at their own pace, in their own time, and in the company of other men”.

The association was one of 10 projects selected in 2011 for support from the Arthur Guinness Fund. Over the course of two years it will receive €50,000 along with business mentoring to help advance the project further.

John Evoy, CEO of the Irish Men’s Sheds Association, said:

We are delighted that the President sees the value in the work that we do and we look forward to his patronage over the coming years. We feel a great validation of our work and are very happy to have this opportunity to develop an association with the President.
It is an enormous honour for the Irish Men’s Sheds Association and the men we represent that the President of Ireland has agreed to be our Patron.

Evoy told TheJournal.ie that the news was “very positive” for the association. The patron was chosen by the association’s board, which numbers 12 men, three from each province.

They had a number of people in mind – including rugby player Paul O’Connell and musician Christy Moore – who they thought embodied the spirit of the association. “It’s people who have particular characteristics that other men respect and would admire,” said Evoy.

He said that they believe that their values of honesty, openness, equality, inclusion and leadership are embodied by the president.

The success of the men’s sheds has been “quite amazing really”, said Evoy. “We have a new shed registered every week.” He said that university research into the sheds had found that there are on average 3,000 men using the sheds each week. They also found that the feel-good feeling that they get from working in the shed stays with 74 per cent of them after they leave, giving them happier home lives.

Evoy pointed out that there are over half a million men in Ireland who are unemployed or retired, which could mean they are “somewhat isolated”, even if they have happy family lives. The men’s sheds give them the social network they would usually gain through work.

If there is any group of men that doesn’t have a men’s shed and is interested in setting one up, they are invited to visit menssheds.ie, which also has information on the location of all men’s sheds.

“It’s quite easy – the support is out there and we will help them to do that,” said Evoy. “Really all you need is a few fellas and an empty premises – every town and village has that.”

Read: Fighting suicide in Ireland: “What stops people from reaching out is fear”>

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