Galway men to feature in new TG4 series

galway daily news galway men in new tg4 documentary series
PIC: SEID NA bhFEAR -An Cheathrú Rua. Micheál Ó Loideáin, Máirtín Breathnach, Séamus Ó Loideáin, Neidin Folan

After two difficult years coping with the pandemic, The Men’s Shed movement in Ireland has bounced back and is making a great impact once again on the lives of thousands.

A sanctuary for men of all ages, providing company, friendship and support, Men’s Sheds offer a welcome social outlet for members throughout Ireland.

In a new series made by Macha Media for TG4, with support from Northern Ireland Screen’s Irish Language Broadcast Fund, Men’s Sheds covers a year in the life of ten sheds right across the country, as they open their doors and introduce us to their members.

The series will air over four weeks, starting on Thursday 25 May at 8pm on TG4 and on the TG4 Player.

Featuring sheds in Galway, Donegal, Armagh, Kerry, Dundalk and Dublin, the programme highlights the characters who belong to the sheds and the wide range of activities they do, from woodworking in Dundalk, online learning in Gaoth Dobhair, working out in Cahersiveen, beekeeping in Falcarragh, and vegetable growing in Corr na Móna, amongst many others.

The series is an emotional rollercoaster which follows the personal stories of men across all four provinces, in rural and in urban centres alike.

With heart-warming stories of post-Covid reopening, caring for the environment and supporting local communities, as well as poignant personal accounts of issues around mental health, family life, cancer, loneliness and loss, this observational documentary series sheds light on the significant positive role played by the Men’s Sheds for male health and well-being, especially in a society emerging from the Covid lockdowns.

Amongst the sheds to feature in the series, Macha Media paid a number of visits to Cumann na bhFear in An Cheathrú Rua.

Audiences will meet the members at their workshop at a model boatbuilding class and in their polytunnel, as they plant seeds for the new season, as well as a fantastic wildlife project where they build and erect a barn owl nesting box at the idyllic setting of Clifden Castle.

In one of the more candid moments of the series, Máirtín Breathnach, chairperson of the Men’s Shed in An Cheathrú Rua, reveals his recent prostate cancer diagnosis and talks about how the shed has given him a huge sense of support and relief from his worries.

“It’s a massive blow when you find out that you have cancer. The shed has kept me going.

“It keeps your mind occupied and you can set any worries aside. We talk to each other here and we share our problems and that allows us to support each other.”

The series also features a second Galway shed on the northern shore of Lough Corrib in the Gaeltacht area of Dúiche Sheoigheach.

Macha Media accompany the members of the Corr na Móna Men’s shed based at the parochial house in the village, as they build and develop a community garden and polytunnel behind the chapel, restore an old grandfather clock and fix up a number of bicycles, including a high nelly with local significance.

The Corr na Móna visits culminate with footage from the annual Corr na Móna 50 mile cycle, with some breath-taking aerial shots from Maam Valley, Leenane and Inagh Valley, with members of the shed taking part and playing central roles in the organisation of the event.

Speaking about the community garden and polytunnel project, shed chairperson, Seán Breathnach said: “We wanted to grow our own vegetables in the polytunnel and from the outset, we decided to leave a corner of the polytunnel for the children from the National School next door.

“It’s great to build that community link between the young and old and hopefully, the children will benefit from the polytunnel and learn something new too.”

The series also introduces us to shed member, Derek Simon, who restores a 1740 grandfather clock that he got from his father-in-law, a project which Derek is delighted to complete in the Men’s Shed.

“I’m delighted with how well the clock has turned out in its new case and I’ll be very happy to present it to my children, especially my second son, as he was very fond of his grandfather.”

We also meet with Paul Coyne and Marcus Choy who fix up old bicycles and as Paul tells us, the Corr na Móna shed has a great mix of characters.

“It’s great to be here to work alongside Marcus, he’s an expert on building bicycles. The best thing about this shed is the mix of skills that everyone has and is happy to share.”

The series provides a refreshing insight into men’s mental health issues, and it will evoke and inspire, as we follow the personal journeys and projects carried out by the many characters of Ireland’s men’s sheds, who work and socialise ‘shoulder to shoulder’.

Men’s Sheds will air over four weeks, starting on Thursday 25 May at 8pm on TG4 and on the TG4 Player.