BUSY members of Borris-in-Ossory Men’s Shed downed tools to welcome Liadh Ní Riada MEP to their newly-refurbished home this month.
The South constituency MEP enjoyed a tour of the shed’s new base in the old Convent of Mercy, which members have renovated over the past year with the help of local people and contractors.
Following its makeover, the former convent is an ideal centre for a variety of skilled DIY and craft projects. It includes a mini-library as well as a social area, thanks to donations of books and magazines from the community.
During her visit on Friday 8 February, Ms Ní Riada said the Borris-in-Ossory centre is a “fantastic” example of the invaluable work down by men’s sheds across the country. After chatting with members, she said she would continue to highlight challenges facing men’s sheds all over the country, particularly in terms of high insurance costs and the need to increase “meagre” funding and resources.
She said: “Men’s sheds do incredible work when it comes to tackling the issues men face, including isolation. They have a hugely positive impact, not only on their members but also on their communities.”
The MEP, who was accompanied on the tour by Brian Stanley TD and local election candidate Lorna Garry, was visiting Laois as part of her re-election campaign for the upcoming European elections in May.
Borris-in-Ossory Men’s Shed members paid tribute to their sponsors and everyone who donated tools and implements, both for the refurbishment and for ongoing projects. The group would welcome further donations, particularly electrical wood tools.
A calendar of activities is being organised for the year and the group hopes many more men from the parish and surrounding areas will join. Annual membership is just €10.
The men’s shed is the result of local people’s hard work and determination and the generosity of owner Nicky Bergin, who agreed a ten-year lease with the community last year for use of the former convent and secondary school, which closed in 1991. After he was approached by Borris-in-Ossory Community Association, in conjunction with Laois County Council, Mr Bergin agreed to allow the property be used for the benefit of local people. The project is also enjoying generous parish support, with Fr Jackie Robinson, PP, pledging €1,000 a year for three years from parish funds.
The men’s shed opening hours are 7pm to 9pm on Tuesdays and 11am to 1pm on Fridays, but further opening hours may be on the cards. An official opening is expected to be held in the near future.