Research Radar – Peggy Regan

Peggy Regan is a part-time MA student at the School of Irish Studies at Concordia University. Her thesis will focus on the Ancient Order of Hibernians in North America in the nineteenth century. Peggy is also the longtime owner of the Gryphon Bakery in NDG, home of the best scones in Montreal!

Who is your favourite academic? / Who (academic or not) has shaped your critical thinking
the most and why?

Difficult question to answer, there is more than one: Dr. F. Kranz,(Liberal Arts College) the first professor who went out of his way to encourage me. Coming late to academics, his classes were a revelation. Dr. R. Rudin, (History) was consistently supportive at
a very challenging time in my life. His own works and his approach to writing history have certainly influenced my own interest and direction.

What are you reading for work and/or for leisure these days?

Leisure reading is, (and I blush to admit), British detective novels. Perfect escapism. For (academic) work, any material I can findon the Ancient Order of Hibernians, who are neither ancient nor entirely always orderly.

What podcast(s) do you recommend?

I very seldom tune in to podcasts, it’s usually someone I work with who does so and it’s always CBC.

What is your favourite archive or library? / What is your fondest research memory?

I like Concordia’s Vanier Library best strictly for the atmosphere. My fondest research memory was when doing research at St. Patrick’s Basilica in Montreal. In a cardboard carton, there was a small hardcover lined notebook in which minutes of the St. Patrick’s Parade committee had been recorded. The minutes ended a few sentences after it was noted that the AOH had reached a majority vote regarding the Parade, (1919). The minutes were not completed, leaving blank pages, and would not be resumed until the United Irish Societies took over control of the Parade in 1929 (I’m citing these dates from memory and hope they are precise). It was a key finding, illustrating a secretive aspect to the AOH which has led to the focus of my MA thesis.

What book or movie changed your life?

Other than academic works, I almost never return to a book of fiction and can’t think of any that has had a lasting impact on my life. However, Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi’s work, Zakhor, Jewish History and Jewish Memory is one that I return to every now and then because his passion combines in a very meaningful way with historical fact, a reminder that when we write our history pieces, we speak of real people, real events.

Do you play music while you work? If so, what?

An absolute mix up: a great deal of Paul Desmond; Hildegard von Bingen (Gothic Voices); The Once (Newfoundland group); Pentatonix; Ella Fitzgerald; Mahler’s 4th .

What is your favourite way to de-stress? / What habits or hobbies support your research
practice and/or allow you to destress?

To de-stress: large mug of fresh hot tea and Hildegard. Use my treadmill, although not regularly enough, a walker’s treadmill and perfect for me.

What are your essential research tools/supplies and why?

Very fond of standard size, yellow lined stationery pads if away from my computer. If at my desk/computer, then post-it notes to mark pages temporarily. If it is material I’ve printed out, then a small ruler to underline passages. Pen, pencil, ruler.

How has the pandemic affected your research practice?

With access to libraries limited, (and my age and being somewhat immune-compromised having had a hermit effect on me), it has mostly been on-line sources: university library; online sites for academics. My thesis subject has not been the direct object of much academic work so perhaps this casting about in a wider field will turn out to be more productive than expected.

Favourite form of procrastination?

Another cup of tea. Also, as I am a part-time student with a bakery to run, I can always turn to its production needs as legitimate procrastination. And, of course, that works both ways.

What do you know now that you wish you had known at the beginning of your career/degree?
Surely any student who has completed a project knows more at its conclusion than when
starting out. I suspect many of the works we read have sections that have been revised after
their conclusions due to exactly that experience.

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