‘I have a friend with long, black hair and a precious fiddle. He pulls the bow across the low strings, bleeding a deep sound out of them, like a shaman opening a door to the other world.’ Photograph: Thinkstock

Music induces in me a clarity of thought far beyond the fog of religion or philosophy

‘On the bus to Cavan, the woman who looked like Joan Baez crossed the aisle and sat beside me.’ Above: the actual Joan Baez. Photograph: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Michael Harding: It was her skin that interested me. I refused to accept she was 65

Michael Harding at Lough Allen, Co Leitrim. Photograph: Brian Farrell

I usually try to avoid politics, but I had been asked to collect Rafeef Ziadah

Michael Harding at Lough Allen, Co Leitrim. Photograph: Brian Farrell

Horses were no more than objects until finally I sat up on one and was forced to trust her. That was intimate

‘I’m very sorry about that, Mr Frog,’ I said. ‘I didn’t see you in the grass.’ Photograph: Thinkstock

I’m melancholic, so I’m constantly afflicted by depressive emotions. Frogs, on the other hand, are more committed to the present m(...)

Sheep in the Mourne mountains

It had never occurred to me that someone in rural Ireland might have been passing the winter with books on Zen back then

A light film of libidinous sweat shimmering just below his nostrils

Because my conversation with a fellow student of Irish in Donegal was so limited, we were forced to live in the present

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