It’s not exactly a short hop from Balbriggan to the Australian Embassy in Killiney, but the two are forever linked thanks to the skills of the local Men’s Shed.
Members crafted six white boomers (kangaroos, to you and me) for the embassy to pull Santa’s sleigh and their impressive efforts were handed over last week.
The Balbriggan shedders proved they were no pouch potatoes or wallabies in the creative department, designing a template for the one-metre-high kangaroos.
Spokesman Sean Corrigan told Dublin Gazette: “It took us about three weeks to do the work, from the template to cutting them out to sanding and painting them.
“They are going to be at the ambassador’s residence this week for a Christmas party, so it’s the first thing guests will see. Then they will go on display in the embassy.”
The Balbriggan group first met with Australian ambassador His Excellency Richard Andrews in September, 2017 when they were chosen by the national association to receive a visit from Australia’s Governor General.
The movement was founded in Australia and there are currently more than 1,000 Men’s Sheds Down Under – though Ireland now has upwards of 400 of them.
Sean said: “We have 18 members and our target is 40. We have approval for a €17,000 grant from Fingal County Council to build an additional shed.
“The plan is we will have a work space and another to eat and socialise and hold classes. Anything you can think of we’ll be doing – computers, basket weaving, the lot. I’m glad I’m retired so I can fit it all in!”
The Balbriggan Men’s Shed has crafted a Buddy Bench for each primary school in the town and built wooden planters for the Tidy Towns group.
Projects in the pipeline include an allotment and greenhouse as well as working closely with the parish and local voluntary organisations.
Sean said: “It’s great craic, and the best thing is you get to meet other people. There are members who live less than 100 metres from me but I never knew them until I joined.
“One of the biggest problems right now is loneliness. Some of the lads have nobody at home, but the kettle is always on here and the only skill you need to join is to be able to drink a cup of tea.”
Balbriggan Men’s Shed meets three times a week at the back of St Peter and Paul’s Church. New members always welcome.