There has never been a shortage of brainpower within the men’s sheds movement, and a new study aims to tap into the grey matter of men’s sheds members for the good of science.

Despite the rather alarming apparatus strapped to their heads, the members of Armagh Men’s Sheds, pictured, have not fallen victim to a mad scientist from a classic horror film. Rather, they are willing and enthusiastic participants in a prestigious study run by Queen’s University Belfast.

The study uses wearable technology to monitor participants’ brain health. The long-term goal is to revolutionise the way conditions affecting the brain, such as dementia, are detected and monitored.

Three members of Armagh Men’s Shed – Stiofán Mac Cleirigh, Seán Toner and Stiofán O Maolmachaire – are participating in the study. The men’s shed members are testing prototypes of the wireless headset, which measures their brain activity as they play a number of video games, specially tailored to test their brain function.

Seán Toner of Armagh Men’s Shed has enjoyed the shed’s unique foray into the innermost sanctum of the human mind.

“The games were a bit challenging,” said Seán, “but there was a bit of competition between the three of us to see who was the most competent, and this added to the craic and banter. I think it is very important to be involved in any type of research if it will help develop research into serious brain issues, such as dementia, which is one of the biggest health worries – especially among the older generation,” said Seán.

The shed members have also been invited to participate in a post-study focus group to discuss the findings and help develop additional concepts and ideas relating to the health of older men.

While sheds have recently taken to the concert stage, the high seas and every other avenue of human endeavour, the workings of the human brain have remained largely unexplored by men’s sheds (the odd table quiz aside). The pioneers of Armagh have put that right, boldly planting their flag on the hippocampus for the benefit of humankind. CL

>> Ballinamore Men’s Shed

Pat Monaghan of Ballinamore Men’s Shed has been in touch to let us know that the Leitrim-based group recently held a very successful open night. The shed has been a hive of activity ever since its foundation in 2013, and items on display included bird boxes, Celtic crosses, a wooden horse and, most notably, a mobile Wendy house.

The Wendy house, built in the style of a Romany caravan, was produced in collaboration with a local women’s art class. The design instructions were plundered from a 1980s woodwork magazine. The Wendy house is modelled here by Sophie the husky.

The shed, which won the social inclusion category at Leitrim County Council’s Pride of Place Awards in 2017, welcomes new members. Anyone interested in joining is invited to call secretary Pat Monaghan on 087 939 0485. Alternatively, they can simply drop down to the shed any Wednesday evening between 7pm and 10pm, for a cup of tea and a chat.


Carrigaline Men’s Shed, Co Cork

Carrigaline is set for a spike in sales of honey and lemon, as members of the newly formed men’s shed choir look to keep their vocal cords in tip-top condition.

Under the expert tutelage of Dr Elizabeth Scott-Hall, the shed choir was formed late last year and currently meets at 11.30am on Tuesday mornings in the Lions Youth Club.

New members are welcome – call 087 813 7990 if interested.