Older adult active retirement groups encompass health promotion, social and community psychological potential. However, little is known about the internal dynamics of these groups or their contribution to individual well-being and the community. This paper examines the Third Age Foundation as an example of one such group operating in a rural area in Ireland and explores the various relationships at work internally and externally. Methodology included: structured and semi-structured interviews, focus groups and a postal survey. A substantial contribution to members' well-being and community competence and cohesion was found. Findings are discussed in reference to the importance of individual and community empowerment, sustainability, social entrepreneurship/leadership and the potential of such models to support community-based living in older age. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.