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News, Stories | 28 September 2021

Exploring Culture with the D8 Men’s Shed

As soon as restrictions allowed, we welcomed the group to 14 Henrietta Street where tour guide Phelim Drew shared some of the history of the house. Photographer: Dan Butler.

As soon as restrictions allowed, we welcomed the group to 14 Henrietta Street where tour guide Phelim Drew shared some of the history of the house. Photographer: Dan Butler.

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Below, Danielle Breslin from the team tells us about meeting the D8 Men’s Sheds group through Tea & Chats in early 2020, and the cultural exploration they embarked on since with some of our Creative Engagement Team.

Read on to find out more, and discover how you can get involved.

Tea and a chat

The D8 Men’s Shed opened its doors for the first time in 2014, and within a month had a registration of 45 members. It began with the aim of helping to foster and encourage a sense of community and companionship through group participation in leisure activities, training and education opportunities as well as mental and physical health promotion.

Danielle Breslin tells us, “I first sat down with the D8 Men’s Shed and their Coordinator, Barbara, in early 2020. We put the kettle on, got the biscuits out, and met the group in Richmond Barracks for a chat. We heard about the many different activities the D8 Men’s Shed participate in together - from carpentry and creative writing to cookery and trips away. We spoke a lot about the local area of Richmond Barracks, Inchicore, as well as the neighbouring areas of Drimnagh, Kilmainham, and Rialto, where the men’s shed is based in Dolphin House Community Centre.

From this first chat, it was clear to see the group had both a deep knowledge and interest in local history, sharing stories of how these areas have changed over time, along with the communities who inhabit them."

Exploring online together

"In March 2020, lockdown loomed and we unfortunately could no longer meet up in person. However, based on what we had learned about the group and their interests from our first chat, we connected the D8 Men’s Shed to the wider engagement team at the Culture Company. From there, the group were invited to participate in a 5-week online programme that would focus on different aspects of local history and look at how culture and society change over time."

The Creative Engagement Team told us more about how that took shape: "With our guest speakers and local historians, we covered topics such as tenement history, Inchicore and its connections to the Spanish Civil War, the history of the Phoenix Park, Dublin’s dance halls and cinemas, and the history of Dublin’s markets. This was not without challenge, as we all got to grips with adapting to connecting online through Zoom, but we worked through these obstacles together.

Every session became an opportunity for members of the men’s shed to share their own knowledge of these topics, bringing to life important memories and social histories that we all enjoyed and learned from. This also involved engaging with lots of the Culture Company’s programmes across Richmond Barracks and 14 Henrietta Street."

New history horizons

The Men’s Shed coordinator, Barbara, spoke about how the programme has spurred a new history group that will be based out of the community centre:

We’ve now developed a new history group, with people as well from outside the Men’s Shed, and that started with Tea & Chats ... Barbara, D8 Men's Shed Coordinator

"The group have discovered a new found love of history, and particularly loved chatting about the dancehalls and cinemas. Since then, we’ve been talking about organising a showing of some of the old comedy shows like Allo’, Allo’ or The Two Ronnies. I’m delighted with the relationship that we’ve developed, that we’ve developed a rapport where we feel we can reach out and can ask a question. The more people working together, the better it is for the actual community."

The history group now meet once a week on a Thursday from 11am - 1pm and anyone in the local area is welcome to join them on their exploration of the city. You can contact Barbara by email (barbarabrennan@dolphinhousecda.ie) or phone (085 8581283) if you’d like to know more.

Danielle concluded by saying, "We are delighted to have begun getting to know the men's shed and other groups that run from Dolphin House Community Centre through Tea & Chats. We look forward to further exploring and making together in the near future."

What is Tea & Chats all about?

Tea & Chats is about having informal and open conversations, sharing cups of tea and connecting with people across the city to find out what matters to them. By listening and connecting, we can build relationships, collaborate and even suggest ways for people to embark on their own cultural adventures.

This ongoing consultation process guides our work and ensures that the people of Dublin remain at the centre of all that we do. Find out more about Tea & Chats.

Get involved

We are happy to connect with all community groups and organisations from across the city. We are currently talking with community groups across the areas of Dublin 1, Dublin 8, Dublin 11 and Dublin 12 through our Tea & Chats programme. If you are involved as a member or facilitator of a community group in the city , we’d love to come chat with you.

Do you have a particular area of interest that you are passionate about and is important to you and your community? We are constantly trying to expand and encourage new ways for people to access and engage with culture of all kinds. Whether you are a part of a heavy metal choir or ultimate frisbee team, a queer book club or a critical mass cycling ensemble, we want to hear about your ideas about the city and what’s most important to you.

If you are interested in taking part in Tea & Chats, you can contact us at teaandchats@dublincitycouncilculturecompany.ie. We’d love to chat with you!