PLAYING THEIR PART John Fallon, Chairman of Claremorris Men’s Shed (right), pictured with Minister Michael Ring and Barry Sheridan, CEO (left) of the Irish Men’s Sheds Association at a funding announcement in 2018. Pic Maxwells
BACK in 2018, Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring visited Claremorris Men’s Shed where he announced €500,000 in supports for the work of Men’s Sheds throughout Ireland. During his speech that winter morning, Minister Ring praised the work of the Claremorris Men’s Shed for their work in the community and supporting important local initiatives.
Unfortunately in these Covid-19 days, the Claremorris Men’s Shed has been made redundant as they are unable to leave the confines of their own homes.
“We are of the older generation which are of high risk and it is sad that we are no help to the community. But we have to look after ourselves and our families,” explained John Fallon, the Chairman of Claremorris Men’s Shed.
“We have always been a huge support to anything that is going on in the community and our members were always able to get out and help but unfortunately now we cannot get out. It is very frustrating but we haven’t time to sit back and think about that. We have to adhere to all the restrictions and get through this,” he said.
With over 70s having to cocoon for their own safety, and with no sign of the restrictions for the elderly population lifting any time soon, it can be a lonely time for many elderly people. John explained that some of their members are fortunate that they live in the countryside and have more room to walk about but it is more difficult for those living in the town.
The Men’s Shed, he said, provided an outlet for many retired people to meet up, put their skills to good use and having some craic during the day. John felt that now more than ever it was important that people stayed in touch and supported each other and as a result they set up a Covid-19 Men’s Shed group chat.
“I opened a Covid Group Chat for everyone to keep in touch and see how we are getting on. We are in touch on a fairly regular basis which is good and all our members are doing well. They all seem to be in good spirits and thankfully they haven’t become ill from it. There are a few who miss it greatly and can only go for a walk or do some gardening. As time goes on you start to get used to the routine but it is frustrating.”
One day at a time
He added that the best advice he can give older people cocooning is to live one day at a time and ignore all the bad news.
“Something people should not do at this time is see and read the news as much. You can read all the stats [about Covid-19] everyday and watch the news conference but there is nothing we can do about it. What do you need to know all that for? Don’t worry about it because if you do it could get you down very quickly.
“Do what you like doing. We are having beautiful weather so maybe get out in the garden and watch nature unfold in front of our eyes. It is a beautiful time of the year. Don’t get bogged down in the whole thing because there is nothing we can do about it. Take one day at a time and don’t worry about next week or the week after. Just enjoy today.”
John praised the community response to the current crisis saying that the local Red Cross, the Claremorris Family Resource Centre, Cúram Family Centre, doctors, gardaí, nurses and chemists were a credit to themselves for all they are doing.
With the Men’s Shed closed for the past month and no sign of it reopening soon, John is convinced they will be back up in running in the future.
“Without a doubt we will be back and back as strong as ever. The Men’s Shed has been a massive part of the community and will again. That is what we want and what we are all about. We want the men back working and chatting and fighting and playing cards. The spin-off from that is they are in good form when they get home and gives them something to get up for in the morning. We all realise we have to keep the head down and keep doing what we have to do. I have no doubt we are doing the right thing and will get through it. It is all about breaking the link and keeping the hands clean.”