Making a Name for Yourself

Making a Name for Yourself

In the past week I've had two conversations about the name of the gallery: "What does it mean?" and "how do you say it?" And as I've lost count the number of times over the past seven years I've answered both of those, I thought I'd put it the record straight - and share some photos of the Byre coming into being.

the Byre Gallery a one level stone building at the top of a steep drive with a black and white dog standing in front of it

Byre is a Scottish - and old English - word for cowshed. As I'm Scottish it was a word I had heard all my life and it never occurred to me that not everyone would know what it meant - or even know how to pronounce it. So, if you've always wondered - here it is: it's pronounced to rhyme with 'desire' not 'fir' or 'fur' or some other even stranger variants. 

I chose the name for two reasons: the gallery, and our house to which it is attached, were built on the site of old barns on a hilly slope on the edge of the village. We decided to call the house 'Hillside' but I wanted to give the gallery a separate identity. 

derelict building with a tin roof

The way we were - summer 2010

This part of the building was once used to keep cows so it seemed a really appropriate choice, to recognise it's agricultural heritage; and as I'm Scottish, I thought 'byre'  sounded a bit prettier than cowshed. 

cleared building site
foundations of a building
A blank canvas
The word 'byre' also has very happy memories for me. It was the name of a theatre in St Andrews, the town in Scotland where I went to school. Not only did I enjoy attending productions there, but once a year - every January - the school drama group took over the Byre for a week to stage a play. It was the most amazing week: for a teenager with more than a passing desire to tread the boards, it was a fantastic opportunity to work in a 'real' theatre.  Those cold January days and evenings of giving your all in a Shakespeare or Restoration comedy were among the happiest of my school days - I just loved the whole experience.  When I was searching for the right name for the gallery, I heard the news that sadly the Byre theatre was closing so it seemed the absolute right thing to do to have a little bit of my St Andrews memories in Millbrook. 
a house being built
Building up 
Happily, St Andrews University bought the theatre in 2014 and the Byre is once more a going concern. And 'our' Byre is still going strong too. And I hope you'll agree it does sound nicer to say that you've found an amazing painting or piece of jewellery at the Byre than in the Cowshed. 
a building under construction
Getting There
wooden beams in the ceiling of a newly constructed building
Beam me up
Gallery interior - art and sculpture in a room with pale green walls
And we're open...
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