Long List of Academic Accolades

At just 35 years of age, Dr Karly Kehoe has a long list of awards and accomplishments to her credit.A senior lecturer in history at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland, Kehoe has received six awards in the last two years: two Edinburgh Beltane Beacon for Public Engagement awards, two research awards from the Royal Society of Edinburgh, one Arts and Humanities Research Council award (with the National Library of Scotland), and one European Union Lifelong Learning award. Add to this, her prestigious title of Managing Editor of Britain and the World, the historical journal of the British Scholar Society, and her own published book, Creating a Scottish Church: Catholicism, Gender and Ethnicity in Nineteenth Century Scotland (2010).

Not wanting to stop there, Kehoe spent part of last year as a Visiting Fellow at Yale’s Beinecke Library, researching her second book, Empire and Emancipation, which looks at Catholic identity in the Britain’s nineteenth-century Atlantic world. And that’s just a partial list of this young academic’s accolades.

Honing in on History and Politics

Reflecting on what has fueled the fire of her career as a scholar, Kehoe says the spark was lit during her undergrad at Saint Mary’s University.

“The smaller size of the university meant that the faculty were more available to help. I was uncertain what I wanted to do and I remember one of my professors telling me that I needed to smarten up and get serious about my studies. I did smarten up.”

An exchange year at the University of Glasgow opened her eyes to the world of academic possibilities, setting her on a path that would see her complete her PhD at that same university in 2005. Next to getting her doctorate, Kehoe says the Fellowship at Yale ranks as one of her most memorable academic experiences so far.

“It’s hard to describe the feeling I got when I opened that letter from Yale and then when I first walked into the Beinecke Library. There was every resource available you could ever want. It was also a beautiful architectural space. As a researcher it was just incredible.”

A Long Way from Cape Breton

Spending this past summer working on her book at her family home in Margaree Forks, Cape Breton, Kehoe reflects on her research, and the parallels she can’t help but notice between Irish migration to Scotland in the 1800s and the large number of workers currently leaving the Atlantic region to work out west and offshore.

“We’re exporting people in large numbers right now,” she says. “We lose that talent and those ideas to another place. As a province, we have a responsibility to talk about this, to look at how it affects the future development of our region. I say this with full appreciation of the fact that I, too, work outside of the region.”

Seeing how history and politics shape a culture is a keen area of interest for Kehoe. She notes how fascinating it is to be living in Scotland at such a critical time in the country’s history, leading up to next year’s independence vote.

“It’s hard to say which way it will go,” she says. “Scotland is a place desperately trying to figure itself out at the moment. It’s such an interesting time in the country’s history.”