Convent upgraded into ‘men’s shed’

The old  convent building
The old convent building

A man’s shed is his castle. A group of enterprising Dungannon men have taken that saying to the extreme after securing the old convent building on Northland Row to house their new creative hub.

The group takes their inspiration from the Australian “men’s sheds” movement, which seeks to promote health and wellbeing, and bring men “of a certain age” together by recreating the environment of a man’s shed in a more communal setting.

Already they have secured a potter’s wheel, and plan to convert other parts of the building, which has lain derelict for more than two decades, into an art gallery and a performance studio.

Member Marty Cullen said there was a very serious side to their endeavour - that of sharing skills, tools and resources to allow men to pursue their creative interests and promote a sense of ‘well-being’.

“Traditionally, men tend to potter about in their sheds shunning social interaction, which might leave them vulnerable to poor mental health”, he said. “We want to reverse that by bringing men together in a well-resourced, comfortable environment.”

The centre is due to open in the spring and already a packed schedule is planned, with Ulster-Scots poetry evenings, and other performances. “We’re a cross-community venture”, said Marty, an accomplished fine artist and photographer, “and we’re inviting local businesses to sponsor and support our activities.” He gave special thanks to Jim McQuaid of Dungannon Parish Committee and Dean Colum Curry for their valuable support.