Tommy Sands was born in Mayobridge, County Down, Northern Ireland, he is a singer/song writer, radio broadcaster, and social activist.  From the pioneering tours with the highly influential Sands Family, playing Carnegie Hall to Moscow’s Olympic Stadium, he has become one of Ireland’s most powerful songwriters and enchanting performers. He enjoys celebrity status in many parts of the world, tempered by artistic integrity and the sorrow of personal tragedy in his war torn homeland.

His song There Were Roses has been described as “… certainly one of the best songs ever written about the “Irish Problem”.  The song recounts how Allan Bell, a Protestant friend of Sands, was murdered in Newry. In the aftermath, a group of local Protestants “prowled round the Ryan Road” for a Catholic to kill in retaliation; ironically, the man they selected, Sean O’Malley, had been a good friend of the Protestant victim and also of Sands.

In May 2002 he received an Honorary Doctorate from The University of Nevada, Reno for his outstanding work as musician and ambassador for peace and understanding.

Tommy Sands work around the globe speaks to our common heritage, using music to bridge cultural differences. In this way he shares a vision with songwriters instigating social change such as Phil Ochs, Joan Baez, and close friend Pete Seeger.


With a new album and more concert dates than ever, Tommy now tours with two startlingly capable young musicians – son Fionan and daughter Moya. With Tommy on vocals/guitar, Moya on fiddle/vocals/bodhran/whistle, and Fionan on mandolin/banjo.  As a solo performer Tommy has many albums, from Singing of the Times (Green Linnet 1985) to his new album Arising from the Troubles (Spring Records 2011), Tommy is also an Author with his book The Songman – a Journey in Irish Music ( Lilliput Press 2005), one of the tours featured on our Podcast Series The Writer’s Passage.            


We met with Tommy in late February at his home in County Down.  Here Tommy performed some of his most well known songs for us, and we’ll be bringing you these unique performances in coming weeks, but for now we have a podcast interview with Tommy Sands about his music, his life and his words. 

To listen now click play or click download and save target as to listen later.

To find out more about Tommy Sands visit his website here.

To view Tommy’s tour dates click here

Tommy is one of 10 authors who have presented our special series of podcasts ‘The Writers’s Passage’ to listen to Tommy’s episode featuring ‘The Songman’ click Here

The Writer’s Passage is a series exclusively produced for under the Arts Council of Ireland’s Literature Project Award.

In this series we are bringing you ten shows, each one detailing the location or locations from a well known book. In each episode the author of that book will bring us on a tour of the areas which are relevant to them and to some of the context within the pages of their book. The Writer’s Passage will bring you on a journey from Sligo to Roscommon, Longford, Kilkenny, Mayo, Tipperary, Antrim, Waterford, Cork, and Dublin.