Carlow College graduate takes next step in History career

After completing her undergraduate studies in Carlow College, Laois native Regina Dunne wanted to take the next step in her career as a Public Historian and Tourism Activator. Regina graduated with a BA (Hons) in English & History and is soon to complete the MA in Irish Regional History, which she has found helped her develop skills essential for her role as Just Transition Tourism Activator for County Laois.

A serious accident triggered a change in career path for Carlow College graduate, Regina Dunne, as she couldn’t go back to her previous career as a photographer. Her love of history had started from an early age after a local farmer ploughing a field uncovered a bronze age burial site and as an 8 year old she was fascinated and hooked on people and place and what made people choose the middle of the mountains to live. Therefore, she chose to pursue her undergraduate studies by completing a BA (Hons) in English & History.

As a student I always naturally loved English and was a huge book worm, reading books way beyond the average reading level and I believe that appetite for reading has supported my love of history. They go very well together. I chose Carlow as the course really suited me as a mature student and the welcome on the open day made me register there and then”, says Regina.

She attributes the standard of course content and variety of the BA (Hons) in English & History as equipping her with all the tools she needed to move into a career in the heritage sector.

Embarking on a Career in History

Having completed her undergraduate studies with Carlow College, Regina felt drawn to continue her postgraduate studies in Carlow College, particularly due to the expertise of the History academic team within Carlow College, but also due to the modules within the MA in Irish Regional History, specifically the Cultural Heritage and Oral History modules, which linked nicely into her professional role as Tourism Activator for County Laois.

Regina found that her favourite element of the programme was the research aspect and the ability to design and shape a thesis about a topic she had already studied and fitted well into the regional history aspect of the programme.  In particular, modules and assignments incorporated on the degree allowed Regina to research the issues around cultural heritage around a particular site in County Laois which is a tourism and heritage site that she works with in her professional role.

Flexibility of part-time study

The structure of the part-time MA in Irish Regional History and flexibility of hybrid study over two evenings per week meant that Regina was able to complete her postgraduate studies whilst also maintaining a full-time job. Furthermore, Regina also suffers from chronic pain, which means she needs to manage her time carefully.

"The two evenings a week aspect of the course worked well for my schedule, especially when one of evening was facilitated with online learning.”

Researching United Irishwomen

For her thesis, Regina is researching the United Irishwomen of the South East with a focus on the cooperative movement and the impact that has on them as they develop the United Irishwomen.

“I have a strong interest in agriculture and women studies and I think we’re moving back into that area with a lot of the work we are doing in the United Irishwomen”, says Regina.

To research this area, Regina primarily used the newspaper archives and the Department of Agriculture files in the National Archives. She acknowledges the preparative modules for the thesis programme really supported her and other students in achieving their best.

“The study and research skills classes as well as best practice presentations from lecturers gave us an insight into how a thesis should look and how research can be presented, but also allowed us to have our own input into it.”, says Regina.

 

Through her research, Regina discovered the actions of the United Irishwomen very much align to current rural regeneration projects and interests, and working in tourism, this topic really drove her to highlight how similar the work the women were doing 100 years ago is still happening today.

Combining History & Tourism

Regina is currently employed as the EU Just Transition Tourism Activator for County Laois. In her role, she supports former Bord na Mona employees, and startup business, community groups and individuals develop regenerative tourism projects that have a key focus on community, heritage, and biodiversity. 

Applications are currently open for the MA & Postgraduate Diploma in Irish Regional History. For more details, visit carlowcollege.ie/postgraduate

Postgraduate applications close on 31st May 2024.

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