Over 200 guests recently attended the official opening of the Cooley Men’s Shed, marking the third Men’s Shed in Co Louth and the final phase of this highly successful cross community initiative. Part of the Louth Community Men’s Shed project, administered under the Louth Age Friendly County Initiative, to date over 150 men have participated since the first Men’s Shed opened in Dundalk in September 2011.
Funded by the International Fund for Ireland, under its Community Based Economic and Social Regeneration Programme, the Louth Community Men’s Shed project set out to promote a sense of belonging, positive ageing and well-being for those who participate, as well as their partners, families and wider communities.
Activities pursued by participants involve carpentry, woodcarving, photography, computer skills, metal work, horticulture as well as recreation & chat mornings. Other partners in the project include the Netwell Centre, which is based in Dundalk institute of Technology and Louth County Council.
Speaking at the launch, David Graham, board member of the International Fund for Ireland, said that one of the main priorities of the Fund, was engagement in innovative and pioneering work with the community sector. “We are very pleased to be associated with this project which has already proved to have had a very positive impact on communities in the county. The Sheds provide a much needed shared space where men can come together to share their skills and learn new ones, and equally important to share their cultures, heritage and traditions. Socialising is a large part of the project too, providing opportunities for the development of new friendships as well as the renewal of old ones. I wish to congratulate everyone involved for their contribution and commitment in helping to make this project such a success and I have no doubt we will have many more “Shedders” on board now that the Cooley Shed is up and running”.
Mr Graham also expressed a collective thanks to the international donors who have supported the work of the International Fund for Ireland for more than twenty-five years: namely the United States of America, the European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Project Co-Coordinator Eva Beirne said: “We are absolutely delighted with the turnout here today and with the huge interest in the project to date. The Netwell Centre is to the fore in promoting inclusive communities where people can age well into later life. We know from research that men don’t talk face-to-face, they talk ‘shoulder-to-shoulder, something which happens naturally in the shed environment. Men come together to work on meaningful projects, to enjoy tea and chat or play a game of pool. In so doing, they develop friendships and share and exchange knowledge and experiences. This process helps men from different backgrounds to see the myriad of things which unite them and which far outweigh that which divides. This initiative is making a huge contribution to local communities across Co Louth and efforts to promote social inclusion. I would like to say a big thank you to the International Fund for Ireland, whose funding support enabled this great project to happen”.