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Sheds have moved on the days when men pottered aimlessly around inside now hosting wifi, TV and even personal bars. In the 1932 novel 'Cold Comfort Farm', Ada Doom sees "something nasty in the woodshed" at the age of two.
Nowadays, with the growing popularity of the 'man shed', it's quite likely that prying eyes will never find out exactly what's inside the shed at the end of their own garden either.
It might not be something nasty a€“ it could be the engine of a 1965 Austin-Healey, a clapped-out wooden boat or an orchid collection a€“ but the garden shed has traditionally been a male retreat from domestic routine which no one is allowed to enter. But sheds have moved on from the days when men a€“ retired, trainspotting English men in particular a€“ pottered about mysteriously inside. One of them is Peter Ellis, whose garden shed near Letterkenny, Co Donegal, is a tribute to the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian. It cost next to nothing to build, being made of mostly recycled materials and whatever Ellis had to hand. Inside is a bench and table, a bog oak sculpture and a water feature, as well as some garden tools. The Mondrian shed was first entered in the Shed of the Year competition in 2012, and is an entrant this year again. Another celebrated Irish sheddie is Conor Keatings in Kilpedder, Co Wicklow, who converted an existing garden shed into a shebeen called the Monkey Bar a couple of years ago.
The 'christening' of the bar was the 2013 New Year's Eve party, when all the neighbours came over. Keatings also goes there to watch sport, and he and his wife Jenny sometimes go out there of an evening, put the fairy lights on and drink wine. David Leech, from Mount Merrion in Dublin, built a shed to house a clay pizza oven in the winter of 2012-2013. The shed itself a€“ 11 feet by 14 a€“ has a fourth wall at the front that doubles as a drop-down deck. The shed is in constant use although, as an employee of Microsoft, Leech doesn't get much time there himself. But while the shed was once seen as a bastion of masculinity, more and more sheddies themselves are female.
This year's winner will be announced on a new, three-part Channel 4 show, presented by architect George Clarke of 'Amazing Spaces' and 'The Restoration Man', in August. Rachel Martin The building will be known as The Matic, a reference to John Dunlop, the inventor of the pneumatic tyre who lived in Belfast in the late 19th century. Philip Farrell The announcement by Environment Minister Alan Kelly last autumn of the construction of 500 modular homes or rapid social housing units for the capital got a warm welcome. A modern shed is an extension of the house; it's as likely to have widescreen TV and wifi as boxes of nails and bags of compost. Among the annual entrants for the UK-based Shed of the Year competition, there is always a smattering of Irish sheddies. It's made of aluminium-framed glass panes between tubular steel posts, and has a tiled roof. However, the contest is sponsored by Cuprinol, which makes wood preservatives, so Ellis believes his maintenance-free metal and glass shed is unlikely to win.
Since building the Mondrian shed, he's also put up a greenhouse and an outdoor barbecue kitchen, and there's a geodesic dome in the works.
One Irish contender is a woman in Dingle, Co Kerry, who wanted an outside room of her own, as her husband had a garage and workshop. But he says he will happily erect a Mondrian shed in other people's gardens if they ask him to.
While cleaning it out, Keatings found his old cuddly monkey toy, which gave the bar its name.



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