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News, Stories | 21 June 2021

What Culture Means to Me by Elizabeth McEvoy

What Culture Means to Me by Elizabeth McEvoy
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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.

Below, Elizabeth McEvoy, Archivist in the National Archives, tells us about her love of her hometown and what culture means to her.

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

Reconnecting with the Marble City

When I was asked to contribute to Dublin City Council Culture Company’s ‘What Culture Means to Me’ blog, I mentioned the invitation to my line manager. He responded with ‘You’re from Kilkenny so you should have no problem writing about culture’, so here goes!

Although I usually live and work in Dublin, being back home in Kilkenny since the outbreak of the pandemic last year has given me a renewed opportunity to reconnect with its familiar sights and sounds and to consider the multifaceted nature of culture in the Marble City. This runs the gamut from hurling prowess, comedy and the arts to roots music, Oscar-nominated animation and Michelin-starred gastronomy.

From the Statutes of Kilkenny in 1366 and its period as the capital of Ireland during the Confederation of Kilkenny (1642–1649) through to being the seat of the powerful Dukes of Ormonde, Kilkenny has always played a disproportionately large role in the life of the country. Nowhere is this more clearly reflected than in the many beautiful buildings that stud the city, some of which have a personal resonance for me.

A sense of place

The construction of the medieval castle was the subject of my master’s thesis, the expertly restored rooms of Rothe House the location of summer jobs during college while every time I step outside my front door, the view sweeps in an arc from St. Canice’s Cathedral and tower, St. Francis’s Abbey and the Medieval Mile Museum all the way over to the jewel in Kilkenny’s crown - the castle.

Growing up in a household that nurtured a deep love of history and sense of place has always made me appreciate the city of my birth and personal cultural highlights over the years have included watching a dramatisation of Macbeth under the imposing battlements of the castle, listening to Bach’s St. John Passion amid the splendour of St. Canice’s Cathedral and going to book readings in the Parade Tower. Meanwhile, Nowlan Park is as much a temple of culture as the recently-opened Butler Gallery and both are deeply interwoven into the fabric of a city I’m proud to call home.

Bio

Elizabeth McEvoy is an archivist in the National Archives with over 21 years’ experience of working in the Reader Services, Records Acquisition and Public Services Divisions. She has responsibility for the Education and Outreach brief which involves planning and implementing a stimulating programme of events and activities and devising strategies that promote and enhance the public profile of the National Archives. Elizabeth co-ordinates the institution’s longstanding collaboration with Culture Club and The National Neighbourhood and really enjoys welcoming visitors from both projects to the National Archives, both in person and online.