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Sensory Garden by Killarney Men’s Shed (Kerry)

Killarney Men’s Shed in Kerry used concrete to build a permanent sensory garden at the entrance to their Shed for all to enjoy as a tribute to lost loved ones.   

Killarney Men’s Shed has long been committed to encouraging health and well-being among members, many of whom first met in their youth while working at the local Lever Factory. As one former Lever Factory employee and member told us:  

“At our age group, we went into employment and stayed in that employment for your entire career. We have men here who retired out of the Lever Factory who went in as teenagers and retried at 65. And their social circle probably was their workmates in the factory and suddenly that was taken away from them.” 

We were also surprised to learn that before this Shed was established, there were 18 women’s community groups in Killarney but none for men. However, they’ve long since filled that vacuum with a hive of activities. As well as meeting up two nights a week, they regularly host singsongs and have a Sunday morning walking group. Promoting positive mental health and physical well-being through connecting is the main driver behind many of their activities, and is partly why they chose to build a beautiful “feel good” sensory garden as somewhere positive to take memories of lost loved ones to.  

“We wanted to be active in promoting positive mental health. And positive mental health means not being isolated, feeling useful, having friends, having crack, having banter, having cups of tea, with getting together.” 

They also deliberately chose to build the garden at the Shed’s entrance for non-Shed members in Killarney to enjoy – from general passers-by to people visiting the adjacent cafe, which is part of the Kerry Mental Health Association.  They also chose to use concrete to build a permanent structure and consulted with experts at the nearby Killarney National Park to select planting native to the area. 

The majority of Mallow Men’s Shed members are aged between 50 and 75. They’re always open to receiving new members regardless of age, background or abilities. Learn more: The Irish Men’s Sheds Association.