Mick Sands was born on 11th of March 1907. He was one of a family of twelve children (seven boys and five girls), born and reared on a small farm on the Ryan Road, near Mayobridge in County Down. Mick's father Pat and his grandfather were both singers and fiddle players and Mick says that he himself "was reared on the fiddle". His mother, Mary Ann, was also a fine singer and Mick still recalls his mother and father singing together a song called "Dobbins Flowery Vale". Most of the songs which Mick sings on this recording were learned from his father or mother.
Bridle Connolly was born on July 22nd 1915 in the townland of Burren which is about five miles from Mayobridge. She was one of a family of nine children and her mother died when Bridie was two years old. Her father, Owen Connolly, was a man of keen wit and had a great way with words. Some of the poems and rhymes which he wrote about local characters and events are still remembered in Burren to this day. He worked a small stone quarry in the hills of Burren and he had "one of the first gramophones in the country". Bridle recalls neighbours gathering in the house to listen to the old "78" records of singers and musicians ranging from The Flanagan Brothers to John Mc Cormack. Then the gramophone would be turned off and the songs and stories would flow with Bridle and her brother Patrick playing melodeons.
Mick and Bridle met at a dance in Broxtown hail which is about half way between Ryan and Burren and a few miles from Mullaghmore, the area mentioned in the song "The Blackbird of Mullaghmore". They were married in April 1939. The shadow of World War 2 was spreading over Europe and work was scarce in Ireland. They moved to England where Mick found work in one of the then thriving steel factories of Northamptonshire. However, the call of home was stronger than the steel and, in June 1940, they returned to the Ryan Road in County Down where they have lived until this day.
Their first child. Mary, was born in 1942, followed by Hugh, Tom, Ben, Colum, Eugene and, in 1955, Anne. There was always a fiddle and melodeon in the house and if money was short, there was always a wealth of music and song and the children grew up listening to many of the songs which their parents have recorded on this album. The music was centered around fiddle and melodeon and the piano which Mary learned to play. Ceili Bands would have influenced the playing and indeed Mick himself played with several local ceili bands. Lizzie O'Hagan, a relative of the family used to cycle over from Lisummon and spend a weekend playing reels and jigs on the piano, an instrument which she could also tune.
In the early sixties, a new Interest came in the old songs through the performances of people like the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. In July 1964, Hugh — the eldest son — returned from college with the first guitar ever to come into the house, Soon he was teaching the first chords to his brothers and sisters, and, shortly after he went to Canada in 1966 (Mary was married in the same year), Tom, Ben, Colum. Eugene and Anne began to play in local concerts as "The Sands Family". Their career as a group can be traced from 1968 onwards through the many recordings which they have made from then until now. What is unique about this record is that it features all members of the family, Mick and Bridle, Mary and Hugh are all found on this album, singing songs, many of which have never been recorded before, in the atmosphere in which the Sands Family grew up.