Irish Men’s Sheds Association, funded by Healthy Ireland, joined forces with Irish Hospice Foundation to explore how Sheds could support their communities navigate grief and loss in various ways — whether by creating a physical place within their local community for taking grief and loss to, or by having a location at their Shed for help with processing grief, or to remember a loved one.
Sheds occupy a unique place in Irish communities, where men in Sheds support each other ‘shoulder to shoulder’, including during times of grief and loss. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 10,000 men were visiting a Shed somewhere in Ireland every week. The impact of the two-year lockdown on the Shed network was significant, particularly in relation to physical health and emotional well-being, along with a slow return to pre-pandemic attendance at local Sheds.
This is why we made the decision to team-up and invite Sheds nationwide to use their skills and experience as ‘makers and creators’ of physical things to explore ways to express grief and loss. The goal and hope behind this unique collaboration was to encourage men, previously involved in Sheds, back into their workshops, connecting and creating. Our ambition from a health and well-being perspective was to support ‘Shedders’ as they returned to ‘Shed Life’ step-by-step, to foster recovery and re-engagement, and to ensure the most vulnerable and isolated in the Shed communities weren’t left behind.
As a model and inspiration for this project, we used ‘House of Memory’ installation that was created as part of the Galway Arts Festival in 2021. We invited and supported Sheds to design their own individual ‘fixed point’ as a place to take grief and loss. We encouraged them to be as unique as their Shed and members.
A number of Sheds took a different approach with some wonderful results, as can be seen from the projects below and the video above.
We also produced an information leaflet about how Men’s Sheds could support their communities to navigate grief and loss. Download this leaflet to learn more about the enormous value of this work in promoting well-being through creative community engagement.
Men's Sheds Projects
About Irish Men’s Sheds Association
The Irish Men’s Sheds Association was formed in 2011. Having first started in 2009, the Men’s Sheds movement had its birth in Tipperary, where the first Men’s Shed was formed. The Shed movement has grown rapidly; there are now 400 Sheds in 26 counties, 36 emerging Sheds and 56 Sheds registered in Northern Ireland. Sheds are places of belonging, mutual respect, companionship and company. Despite a wide range of activities and focus, the one thing all Sheds have in common is ‘connection’ (and perhaps kettles and craic agus ceol!). Currently Ireland has the highest number of Sheds per capita of any country in the world. Anyone interested is invited to go along to their local Shed and see what it’s all about. You’re guaranteed a warm welcome and can be assured there’s something of interest for everyone. Learn more about the Irish Men’s Sheds Association.
What a Men’s Shed is not!
- It is not a formal training programme, but you may gain new knowledge and skills.
- It is not a sports club, but you could play sports.
- It is not a health programme, but your health and well-being might improve.
- It is not an information service, but you can ask for information you need.
- It is not a service for men but activities organised by men.