Last Monday Annie Proulx spoke at the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry, Ireland, where she talked about her latest project: A study of the Irish migration to her home state of Wyoming. The Southern Star reports:
Speaking to five hundred people at the West Cork Literary Festival’s first ever sell-out event, she said the stories of the people who populated Butte, Montana, and worked the copper mines is very well documented.
But there is little or nothing to account for the Irish names (like John and Timothy Mahony, who came from Kilcrohane, Pat Sullivan, Eugene McCarthy William Daly, Richard and Peter Tobin) that are attached to the vast ranches and remote regions in central Wyoming, and she named historian, Hazel Vickery, as her local contact, her “touchstone.”
Annie Proulx explained how she and her friend, Dr. Dudley Gardner, a historian and archaeologist at the Western Wyoming College, have been making a study of these people.
Proulx and Gardner have worked together before to study Wyoming history; he traveled with her as she researched her most recent work, a photo book titled Red Desert. “I like difficult places,” she told the crowd at the festival. “In Wyoming it’s a basin and range and you can see for 150 miles. It was a fine place for me to write. Walking in Wyoming works with writing.” She also noted that not everybody in the state adores her:
She said one woman came up to her at a talk and told her that the members of her book club were annoyed with her for “dragging Wyoming through the mud. Then she asked me to sign her book—that’s people.”