L-R: Paddy Kiely, Dennis Tracey, Kevin Carey Eugene Scally. Front: Peter Drake and men's shed music teacher Margaret Maher
Beautiful wooden sculptures, crafts and paintings filled the gallery space in The Source Arts Centre Thurles last week as part of an exhibition of work by a talented group of local men.
However these stunning creations were not the works of famous artists but were instead the culmination of a year’s hard work by the 20 strong members of the Thurles Men’s Shed.
For two days the Source gallery was transformed into a 61 piece exhibition of work featuring an array of sculptures, toy tractors, garden furniture and display cases constructed from upcycled pallets and woven baskets as part of the Bealtaine celebrations.
Pic: Thurles Men's Shed member Kevin Carey with a selection of his artwork displayed in The Source
“We’ve seen it time and again how people change, or blossom, when they link up with the local men's shed. There are so many different courses on offer through the shed network that it can help to uncover hidden talents people would never have realised they had,” explains Peter Blake who adds that after picking up a paintbrush in his 70’s for the first time in his life, he is now one of the commandeers for the Thurles shed’s art department.
“Since it started Thurles Men’s Shed has been a breath of fresh air for the community. It’s given a lot of people a place to go and it’s also been good for the area. Our members have done a lot of good for Thurles in helping create display cases and flower pots for local groups. It all feeds back into helping the local community,” says Peter triumphantly.
Pic: Peter Drake and Tom Quinn greet guests at the Source where the Men's Shed held their display
The Men's Shed movement began life in Australia in 2007 and the idea, which brings together men from all backgrounds and interests to work on projects in a safe, friendly environment, was quickly adopted in Ireland with shed’s popping up in communities across the country. The project was formally established in Thurles in March 2014, earning its first accolade as the 200th shed in the country to open its doors.
And along with hosting regular courses and workshops including computer skills, music, upholstery and woodwork, Thurles Men’s Shed also take to the roads on a weekly basis as part of their walking group.
“You can pick and choose what you want to take part in and because there’s so many courses or options you’re bound to find something to suit. We get in interesting speakers for talks and our ‘Friday Fry Ups’ where we host a breakfast for our members always has a good turn out,” adds Paddy Kiely who is also quick to point out how the group strut their stuff on stage last year to ‘That's Amore’ as part of Lip Sync Battle in the Premier Hall.
“None of us had ever been on stage before but we signed up and it was great craic altogether. We might sign up for the X Factor yet,” he jokes.
Eugene Scally joined his local shed last year after returning to Tipperary following more than 20 years in the US and says the group has been a lifeline for helping him settle back into the community.
“It’s one of the best things I did since I came back. I’d recommend it one hundred percent to anyone, just go in and get involved,” he says.
Pic: Local author John Fairbrother proudly displays one of his pieces at the exhibition
To find out more about Thurles Men's Shed contact chairman William Ferncombe on 086 8806555