Dutch Royals to consider bringing Men’s Sheds to the Netherlands

Pair told Irish women almost form queues to volunteer TV watching husbands for the initiative

Queen Maxima of the Netherlands pictured at Cobh pier during the Dutch King and Queen’s three-day State visit to Ireland. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Queen Maxima of the Netherlands pictured at Cobh pier during the Dutch King and Queen’s three-day State visit to Ireland. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

 

The Dutch Royals are to explore the possibility of bringing Men’s Sheds to the Netherlands after being told how Irish women nearly form queues to volunteer their retired husbands who spend “all day at home watching television.”

Former councillor Barry Cogan of Carrigaline Men’s Sheds told King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima in Cork on Friday that women often send their spouses to take part in the community-based initiative.

“They say ‘he is driving himself mad and he is driving us mad.’ So they send them to us.”

Speaking during a visit to Fort Camden, in Crosshaven, Queen Maxima told Mr Cogan that it was “important to have a second life” following retirement.

The king said he could “well imagine” that women would want their husbands out from under their feet and praised the sheds for tackling social isolation amongst older men.

King Willem-Alexander asked if the sheds were purely a rural initiative and seemed particularly interested to know that they also operate in cities.

The royal couple said they were interested in setting up sheds in the Netherlands through their Orange Foundation and praised the sheds for the immense contribution they make to the community.

Men’s sheds are a network of community non-profit groups with facilities where men can gather to work on projects. Mr Cogan, who is involved in a multitude of activities with the sheds, said when they started in Carrigaline a few years ago, they were the 29th shed in Ireland.

Now there are more than 400 sheds across the State.

Meanwhile, the under 14s Sarsfield Camogie Club gave the royal couple a demonstration of the sport in Crosshaven. They presented them with hurleys made of Dutch ash and jerseys for their children Amalia, Alexia and Arianne. The queen told the players that their teenage daughters train with the Dutch junior hockey team every year in Ireland.

Ciara Rice (13) said the Royals were “really lovely’ whilst Liadan Shepherd (14) said the royal couple were genuinely appreciative of and interested in their gifts.

The royals also met a trade delegation in Cobh. They were greeted by Tánaiste Simon Coveney at the port side, avoiding the torrential downpours that had plagued the morning.

The Port of Cork and the Port of Amsterdam International have signed a collaboration agreement to strengthen and support each other, to coincide with the royal visit.

A Dutch cruiseliner Prinsendam was docked in the town and sounded its horn as the king and queen disembarked their boat to meet dignitaries at the Sirius Arts Centre.

The couple started their morning at Cork City Hall where they were greeted by the new Lord Mayor Dr John Sheehan and were presented with a poem titled In Cork, Waiting for the Dutch, by poet Thomas McCarthy.

They were also greeted by a sprinkling of enthusiastic Dutch tourists in the city.

Amongst the crowd was Wouter Groendijk, who is originally from the Netherlands but has lived in Ireland for 20 years. He says he never expected that the king and queen would turn up on his doorstep.

“It is such a great occasion. People like them because they are so approachable. So down to earth. They are part of the nation. They don’t have anything of elevation that you see in other royal families. .”