‘There is something about Romania that feels like the beginning of the road to the east, or the end of Europe.’ Above, a street scene in Bucharest. Photograph: Thinkstock

I was flying across Europe as the children of Algerians were killing cartoonists down below. By the time I got to Bucharest the news was on every s(...)

Positively pornographic? Photograph: Thinkstock

One night in December I took down my computer and started looking for cheap flights in early January. I found a bargain from Dublin to Bucharest and p(...)

Love all. Photograph: Thinkstock

I heard a woman playing the flute in Donegal recently. She sat as straight as a sally rod with closed eyes, and her breath in the barrel of the ins(...)

‘I was so moved by the simple acknowledgement of my humanity that when I saw a woman begging, I gave her three pound coins instantly.’ Photograph: Thinkstock

Just before Christmas I was standing in the lobby of a Belfast hotel while two guests were asking the receptionist if they could order a meal.(...)

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

Roxie the cat was having trouble eating her dry food. That was the start of it. She would try to swallow the little nuggets instead of chewing them(...)

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

Roxie the cat was having trouble eating her dry food. That was the start of it. She would try to swallow the little nuggets instead of chewing them(...)

‘The Black Madonna of Czestochowa is not a woman who does small wonders: her concerns are on a grander scale.’  Photograph: Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images

I saw few crutches in the monastery of Jasna Góra. I saw no gaudy wall of hanging bandages, arm slings or prosthetic limbs to tell the world that m(...)

The suitcase. Full of college note books, a camera and some letters.  Photograph: Getty

Last week I opened a big old-fashioned black suitcase that came from America long ago, and I found a photograph of an American girl inside, leaning ag(...)

Anti-water charge protesters outside the Irish Water head office on Talbot Street at the end of November. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

In Leitrim the rain drifts in from the Atlantic and falls on to my roof. It runs in rivulets to the guttering beneath the eaves, until it finds a down(...)

‘There was no sound as delicious as my neighbour’s tractor in a field of grass as he sat steering and twisting his head to watch the rake toss the mown grass into perfect lines behind him.’ Photograph: Thinkstock

A neighbour of mine died recently after a few years of ill health. He was a quiet man who never married but was good to the mother and was cherishe(...)