The Irish Men’s Sheds Association is in line for a major international honour after being nominated for a European Citizen’s Prize by a quartet of Irish MEPs.

MEPs Seán Kelly, Mairéad McGuinness, Brian Hayes and Deirdre Clune put the association forward for the prestigious prize. Séan Kelly MEP, leader of Fine Gael in the European Parliament, explained the group’s rationale for the nomination:

“Having met with and spoken at many of the Irish Men’s Sheds Association events, I am delighted that the Fine Gael delegation has put forward this very positive community-based initiative for the European Citizen’s Prize.”

“The Men’s Sheds motto is: ‘Men don’t talk face to face. They talk shoulder to shoulder.’ It creates a space where men can otherwise discuss health issues and emotions while engaging in purposeful activities. This advances the health and wellbeing of the participating men by combatting issues such as loneliness and isolation, while creating a culture where men can openly discuss their thoughts and feelings without stigma,” he concluded.

Barry Sheridan, CEO of the Irish Men’s Sheds Association, said: “We’re incredibly honoured to have been nominated for this highly prestigious prize. Our deepest thanks go to MEPs Kelly, McGuinness, Hayes and Clune. This nomination is tribute to every single men’s shed member throughout the country and to all those who support them – from family and community members to our partner organisations.”

Instituted in 2008, the European Citizen’s Prize is awarded annually to projects and initiatives that facilitate cross-border co-operation or promote mutual understanding within the European Union. Previous Irish winners include Foróige, Coder Dojo and the GAA.


We’re a step closer to finding the Canaletto of Connacht or the Michelangelo of Mayo, with Ballina Men’s Shed set to launch Ireland’s first dedicated men’s shed art studio.

Shed secretary Seamie Rice reports that the project had its genesis in an HSE-backed series of art classes run last year.

“There were 16 fellas doing the course every Tuesday night. I thought it would die down after a couple of weeks but it just keep gathering steam. No one wanted to miss it. I thought, we have to keep this going in some form”.

The 90-minute classes unleashed a hitherto-hidden torrent of creativity.

“I was very surprised by how good they were”, says Seamie. “Everyone had something they’d wanted to paint for years, and they finally got to do it. None of them had any prior experience”.

Ballina Men’s Shed is perhaps better known for its prolific workshop, a cornucopia of wood-based marvels which previously contributed to projects such as a local fairy trail. Seamie, however, believes that variety is the spice of life.

“It’s a chance to do something a bit different. I’m the type that if I get an idea in my head, I’ll just take it as far as it goes.”

Seamie and his shed mates have certainly done that, with the new studio beginning to take shape and slated for a grand opening in May.

“We have to make sure that the lighting, the seating and the materials are just right”, he says.

As well as the new studio and a forthcoming project with local artist Val McLoughlin, the shed is looking forward to a fundraising social dance at the Great National Hotel, Ballina, on 18 April. The festivities take place in honour of Bumbleance, the children’s ambulance service, with country music legend Declan Nerney headlining on the night.

The dance is being heavily supported by Ballina Men’s Shed – yet another reminder of just how integral men’s sheds are becoming to their communities. CL