Nuacht, Scéalta | 28 Iúil 2021

What Culture Means to Me by Diarmuid Bolger

National Museum of Ireland, Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks

National Museum of Ireland, Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks

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How do you define culture?

We want to hear from people of all ages and all walks of life about what culture means to them. Is it a space or place? A feeling, a moment or a connection with people? We’re gathering voices from across the city to help us express through a series of short blog posts how culture can play an active role in our everyday lives.

Diarmuid Bolger, Education Assistant at the National Museum of Ireland, Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks, tells us about his love of music, history, and waiting for the audience to arrive.

Diarmuid can often be found hosting some great events as part of Culture Club. You can find out more, and book your spot for upcoming events here.

Storytelling and music

Growing up, my life was largely centered around the cultural side of Dublin life. My father – a novelist, poet, and playwright – ensured that much of my childhood was spent attending plays, book readings and listening to storytelling songwriters who painted an image of their unique perceptions of Ireland and their place in it.

It was this upbringing that made me want to contribute my own voice to the cultural space of Dublin; firstly as a musician/songwriter in a small two-piece acoustic folk band with my older brother, and then as a stand-up comedian and, most recently, a long-form improviser. This last endeavor was begun at the start of 2020, and luckily for my family and friends the pandemic quickly ensured that they would never have to experience this particular pursuit live.

History, community, and culture

My other love since starting school has been studying history, and in particular examining societal change through the medium of cultural pursuits such as acting, writing, comedy and sport. For me, the study of culture is an essential component of history. It is impossible to properly comprehend the past without understanding its people and their lives. Culture is vital in underpinning history by exploring who we are and where we are from through a unique and deeply human perspective.

These two fields have given me a strong appreciation for the importance of not just what we as a society choose to create and leave as a cultural legacy, but the relationship between culture and its audience. Culture has the extraordinary ability to bring groups of people together who might not have previously become interconnected, and also to present us with ideas and concepts from communities and social groups who we might not have been exposed to otherwise.


For me, one of my favorite places to be is in any setting where an event is about to happen and the door to the public is about to open, whether that is in a small theatre, the basement comedy club in Sin É or even at our own public programme events at the National Museum of Ireland. There is always an air of anticipation in these spaces, right before the crowd arrives and the performer or presenter begins, where the possibility of creating a unique communal experience can occur and a moment in Dublin’s cultural future can either be created, reimagined or simply allowed to reoccur once more.


Diarmuid Bolger is an Education Assistant at the National Museum of Ireland, Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks. As part of his role, he is the coordinator of the Museum’s Culture Club programme. To learn more about upcoming events at Collins Barracks, take a look at the events calendar.