Tommy Sands

Tommy Sands (b. 1945)

Tommy Sands is an Irish folk-singer, not to be confused with the American pop singer and actor. Raised in a musical family, Tommy joined with three siblings to perform as the Sands Family, though he was the lead song-writer. They toured in Europe and the U.S., including playing in Carnegie Hall on St. Patrick’s Day. Sands also had a solo career and later performed with his son and daughter.

Most of Tommy Sands repertoire is traditional Irish music, but he also would frequently address concerns for peace. He dreams of an Ireland without conflict, and speaks about dreaming a new reality into being, part of an ancient Irish “dream tradition.” In 1986 Sands organized a “Citizen’s Assembly” of various artists, poets, and musicians to call for peace.

Besides singing to dream beyond the troubles in Ireland, he has joined in Israeli-Palestinian peace events. In 2010 he accepted a joint Israeli-Palestinian activist invitation to protest the removal of Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem. One special peace music collaboration was with cellist Vedran Smajlović in producing the album “Sarajevo/Belfast” that included guest performances by Pete Seeger and Joan Baez.

Tommy Sands’ song “There Were Roses” has been described as the best song ever written about the conflict in Northern Ireland. It tells the story, with names changed, about the murder of one of his Protestant friends. The Protestant paramilitaries came looking for a Catholic to kill and ironically murdered a young man who was a friend to both Sands and the murdered Protestant.

Sarajevo/Belfast CD by Vedran Smailovich and Tommy Sands:

“There Were Roses”:

Additional Videos on His Website:

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Learn more about Daniel Buttry’s series of books on global peacemakers.

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