The men’s shed movement started off in Australia in the late 1990s as a response to issues of older retired men who felt a lack of suitable activities and places for socialising with other men. In 2011, the Irish Men’s Shed Association was established and there are now over 900 men’s sheds active in Ireland. Given our interest in ageing and retirement, these became one of our fieldsite locations, and you can find a discussion of their role alongside other activities in our forthcoming monograph Ageing With Smartphones in Ireland: When Life Becomes Craft by Pauline Garvey and Daniel Miller, which will be published by UCL Press on May 6th 2021 as an open-access monograph.
For reasons of anonymity, we decided not to film either of the men’s sheds in our respective fieldsites. Instead, I teamed up with David Prendergast and Daniel Balteanu of Maynooth University, and we made a film about the men’s shed in the university town where we work. It’s a three-minute introduction to their many activities, which may illustrate why this movement has become so successful.