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The Gift of Connection for Christmas by Westport Men’s Shed

A group of men singing a song at Westport Men's Shed.

Irish Men’s Sheds Association, funded by Healthy Ireland, and Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) joined forces for a unique creative collaboration with musician Mike Hanrahan for Christmas 2023.

As long-standing partners, IHF with The Irish Men’s Sheds Association recognise the power of connection between individuals and within communities. The organisations collaborate to increase Men’s engagement with issues around grief and loss exploring their experience of bereavement and death – recognising the potential of the Shed network for men, who represent just 30% of callers to IHF’s Bereavement Support Line, to provide peer-to-peer support and spaces where conversations can and do happen in safe, non-judgemental and supported ways.

Westport Men’s Shed in Co Mayo were invited by IHF to work with Mike in a series of workshops towards the development of a song resulting in ‘Wishing You Were Here’ just in time for Christmas. Westport Men’s Shed is a Shed that encapsulates everything the Men’s Sheds network offers all men regardless of who they are or where they’re from – a warm welcome, inclusive atmosphere, opportunities to learn something new, share skills and contribute to the local community. Above all else, Westport Men’s Shed (like the 400+ Sheds nationwide) offers opportunities for connection.

Mike Hanrahan, musician, singer, composer, formerly of Stockton’s Wing and latterly Senior Fellow at The Global Brain Health Institute, Trinity College Dublin, says:

“It was such a buzz being in a room with a bunch of aul fellas like myself and having proper chats. We [men] usually ‘talk but don’t talk’. We’re afraid to talk about anything personal. We talked about Christmas and what it means to us. It was such a beautiful, beautiful experience.”

Learn more about this project and other wonderful projects completed with Irish Men’s Sheds Association this year.