xii close to the next moment hood, and the relentless outbound travel on the electronic information highways.
In a December made impassable by snow, my questions for Cathal Ó Searcaigh, sent to his home on Mount Errigal, in north-west Donegal, went undelivered for weeks. In early February Michael Longley reflected on what future we could share, and what shape it would take. The last interview for this book was completed in midFebruary as winter was turning into spring in my Californian coastal city and the first Irish crocuses and snowdrops were starting: I talked to Eavan Boland, 350 miles north of me in San Francisco, about the arc and journey of this book. She pointed out that the old, single story of Irishness and nationhood had now changed, that Ireland was now a place of many stories.
Is there any single conclusion that can be taken from these interviews? I’m reluctant to argue that there could be. My purpose from the start has been to let the writers and artists here speak for themselves, and let the reader listen for himself or herself. If there was a single challenge in the interviewing process, it lay in the attempt to slow down the molten process of change in Ireland and turn it back from reaction to reflection. It was a unique opportunity for me as interviewer (and, I hope, for the reader as witness) to see the minds and talents that shape a culture actually apprehending it in a moment of crisis. There are many voices here, many references. There is nothing that could be called a consensus. What this suggests is something that many of these writers themselves suggested: that the life of a country is composed of a rich, various and sometimes conflicting series of conversations. And that we do not need to agree. We simply need to listen.
Jody Allen Randolph Dublin–Santa Barbara