"Finding the entrance to the labyrinth is not the simplest of steps, for I find myself separated from it by another labyrinth. I no longer live in Aran; I cannot jump on my bicycle and go and have another look at that harsh grey hillside. My sight-lines and thought-lines to it are interrupted by the thick boggy hills and dazzling waters of Connemara. I am too far for touch, too near for Proustian telescopy. There is also a dense forest of signposts in the way, the huge amount of material I have assembled to help me. Here to my hand are a shelf of books, thirteen piled volumes of diary, boxes bursting with record cards, a filing-cabinet of notes, letters, off prints from specialist journals, maps and newspaper cuttings. Also, three ring-binders of writing accumulated over a dozen years towards this work, some of it outdated, misinformed, unintelligibly sketchy, some so highly polished it will have to be cracked open again in order to fuse with what is still to be written. What tense must I use to comprehend memories, memories of memories of what is forgotten, words that once held memories but are now just words? What period am I to set myself in, acknowledging the changes in the island noted in my brief revisitings over the years, the births and deaths I hear of in telephone calls? In what voice am I to embody the person who wrote that first volume with little thought of publisher or readership during a cryptic, enisled time, I who live nearer the main and have had public definitions attached to me, including some I would like to shake off—environmentalist, cartographer—and whose readers will open this volume looking for more of the same and will be disappointed if they get it? How am I to lose myself once again among the stones of Aran"