The geography of the Aran Islands is very simple, yet it may need a
word to itself. There are three islands: Aranmor, the north island,
about nine miles long; Inishmaan, the middle island, about three
miles and a half across, and nearly round in form; and the south
island, Inishere--in Irish, east island,--like the middle island but
slightly smaller. They lie about thirty miles from Galway, up the
centre of the bay, but they are not far from the cliffs of County
Clare, on the south, or the corner of Connemara on the north.
Kilronan, the principal village on Aranmor, has been so much changed
by the fishing industry, developed there by the Congested Districts
Board, that it has now very little to distinguish it from any
fishing village on the west coast of Ireland. The other islands are
more primitive, but even on them many changes are being made, that
it was not worth while to deal with in the text.
In the pages that follow I have given a direct account of my life on
the islands, and of what I met with among them, inventing nothing,
and changing nothing that is essential. As far as possible, however,
I have disguised the identity of the people I speak of, by making
changes in their names, and in the letters I quote, and by altering
some local and family relationships. I have had nothing to say about
them that was not wholly in their favour, but I have made this
disguise to keep them from ever feeling that a too direct use had
been made of their kindness, and friendship, for which I am more
grateful than it is easy to say.