The Dublin Boys Club is described by Irish artist Al Maser as “a nomadic men’s group exploring healthy masculinity, where men can learn to communicate better with each other,and grow into the most authentic versions of themselves.” Originally, started in Berlin, the concept was developed in response to rising suicide levels and mental health challenges among men, offering a safe space to chat, seek advice and be around peers, without the lubrication of alcohol.
Maser began hosting the events in his Dublin studio, inviting men to attend a kind of ‘group chat’ scenario. The decision was made to begin offering an outdoor version of the group chat, when Maser realised the existing format might not be for everyone. Walks + hikes made room for the same safe and open vibe, without the intensity of sitting directly across from each other. People began opening up in different ways when they were in the expanse of the Irish wilds and the pressure to engage became less as men walked side by side with each other.
We were intrigued and headed along to their meet up in July to find out more.
Traversing the Ticknock landscape on a foggy Saturday morning, the group is told of the day’s theme (today it’s looking at what a healthy relationship means), a few ground rules and then the hiking begins. The walks are designed to encourage conversation, but there’s no pressure to share. “I treat it like a form of meditation - you can’t be governing yourself too much. You can lay down the guidelines but you don’t want to force people to dig deep. Just showing up is part of the process.”says Maser.
He came into this form awareness through a bit of self-exploration and meditation of his own over the last few years. It opened up other avenues for him, helping to figure out what his crutches were, gain insight into his own accountability and begin to show more compassion for himself as well as others. He approaches the Dublin Boys Club excursions with the same clear, purposeful and caring vibe, saying,“Pulling off your armour is hard. Rewarding, but hard. Some guys who attend are well versed in this - self aware, they’ve got the rhythm of what we’re trying to do, and then there’s some guys who are super vulnerable, but they see it as a new opportunity to meet people and connect.”
Attendees of the events run the gamut of old to young, across different geographic areas, socio-economic backgrounds, reasons for attending and Maser says the group has always felt open and welcoming. The men here show respect for each other, are open to turning up with a clear mind, embracing vulnerability and above all, offering space to listen.“The people here are really encouraged to listen. We’re not coached in that. Men try to fix things when they hear a problem, but sometimes it’s just about saying ‘I hear you, that’s tough’ and dismantling ego. The Dublin Boys Club is that ear that so many people need.”
Maser is committed to continue The work of The Dublin Boys Club and sees it taking on new shapes as it goes. There’s an awareness that the meets aren't a substitute for professional help if it’s needed, but rather a stepping stone towards a better, healthier path.
You can catch Maser and The Dublin Boys Club again this weekend when they head to Dublin City for an urban walking tour. Check out the details below:
Dublin Boys Club
Saturday, August 1, 2020
9:00 AM 12:00 PM