Tog’s seventh birthday party is a maker’s delight

29 Jan 2016

There will be a specially made pizza oven for Tog's seventh birthday party

One of the many hackspaces dotted around the country, Tog’s seven years of existence have seen four venue changes, countless projects and a surging membership base on the back of a makers’ revolution in Ireland.

The revolution is best explained by the popularity of Dublin Maker, a free public event held in Trinity College Dublin. Held during the wonderful Festival of Curiosity, the one-day event welcomed 12,000 people through its tented doors in 2015.

That’s 12,000 people getting a look at ingenuity, handiwork and plain old making.

Future Human

With that, we look at Tog, which started in January 2009 when 16 people put their heads together and decided to create a communal space for them to work on projects.

It started with a quick meeting

A quick meeting, among people who had not all met in person, resulted in Tog – which was supposed to be Tóg, the Irish for build, but SEO is not a friend of Gaeilge.

Of that original crew, around a dozen remain, with many more paid-up members now keeping a new venue in Blackpitts in Dublin 8 alive.

Tog BlackpittsMembers get to work building the new Blackpitts hackerspace. Image via Tog

“There are 60 paid members and their membership fees, along with whatever hours they decide to give to the hack space, keep the facility up and running,” explains Tog’s Jeffrey Roe.

The big reveal of the new venue is on Saturday 30 January, with guests welcome to see what goes on in a 550sqm venue, why dozens of people contribute and how a few hours and some clever minds can make for a fine night.

New digs

The new digs is at 22 Blackpitts, with the group having moved in a while back to create a fabrication room, a classroom, a workshop and a common room already.

Many of these rooms are already used for weekly courses on the likes of lock picking, electronics and coding.

“There’s more space for us to play with,” says Roe, who feels word-of-mouth has played a primary role in attracting new and enthusiastic members.

Tog blackpittsMembers get to work building the new Blackpitts hackerspace. Image via Tog

“Most people who join will have been at an event or two that we have run, one of our weekly classes,” he says, with guests who think they can utilise the hacker space welcome to simply fill in a form online.

To celebrate Tog’s seventh birthday, the members are building their own pizza oven, with one of their beer brewers coming up with a special IPA for an event that is basically an open day for people to pop in and have a look at the space.

Times have changed

It’s all a far cry from that first meeting, so. Originally Tog utilised some space in DIT, “after one of us met a very helpful lecturer there”, before moving on to Arran Quay, Chancery Lane for over five years and now Blackpitts to satisfy the growing membership.

And the growth is felt across the city. Dublin Maker’s 12,000 attendees in 2015 was part of a growing trend, which started with 5,000 in 2012 and has been rising consistently.

It has risen so quickly that there are rumours that Trinity can no longer host it, with a new larger city centre venue in the offing. Tog, in particular, hosted a lovely interactive display at Inspirefest last year, too.

Tog BlackpittsMembers get to work building the new Blackpitts hackerspace. Image via Tog

“The maker community in Dublin is very vibrant,” says Roe. “There are more and more people interested in the area. 3D printing, laser printing, designing, it’s all becoming very popular.”

You can check out the party from 7pm tomorrow, with all details here.

Main image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic