Grá, music, nature, swimming... a good cup of Barry’s Tea - these are the things that make me happy

We talk to Cork born singer and fiddle player Clare Sands in our Person to Person as she launches here new EP
Grá, music, nature, swimming... a good cup of Barry’s Tea - these are the things that make me happy

Clare Sands and Bridin, who feature in  Tírdhreacha agus Fuaimdhreacha.  Picture: Kasia Kaminska

This week Clare Sands features in our Person to Person

TELL us about yourself;

I’m a fearless fiddler and bilingual singer (plus a secret black belt!). I’m Cork born and bred, but my dad is from the North, and my mom is from Wexford. Mixed religious household, very liberal as a result.

I swim in the sea daily, all throughout the winter, and it gives me great energy. I am like the Tazmanian devil a lot of the time - endless energy!

I am passionate about music, travel, culture, and nature. I go away every January by myself, to far-away shores (I’m writing this from Colombia!) to take it all in....

Where were you born?

Galway... but born and bred in Cork, boy!

Where do you live?

Cork - Connemara based, but writing this from Colombia! All the C’s....


Best parents, Seamus and Susan, and two younger sisters - one physio and one criminologist - a very handy combination...! House full of dogs too - Grace O Malley and Mara.

Best friend?

A strong North Cork woman, Meghan Maguire. We trained together (camogie, karate) and also had our first ever band together! She also jumps into the cold Atlantic with me when she isn’t being a chicken.

Earliest childhood memory?

Sessions in our house every weekend. Hearing the music creeping in through a chink in my bedroom door... I was supposed to be ‘asleep’ but never was.

Clare Sands with Liam Ó Maonlaí. Picture: Kasia Kaminska
Clare Sands with Liam Ó Maonlaí. Picture: Kasia Kaminska

Person you most admire?

My grandmothers. Resilient, creative, and wild souls.

Person who most irritates you?

People who are cruel to animals... Would definitely like to use some black belt skills on them.

Where was your most memorable holiday?

Barcelona after secondary school. I lived there for a month selling boat trips and ran with the bulls in Pamplona. Amazing city of colour, art, music, and great food.

Favourite TV programme?

Big Sopranos and Derry Girls fan. With a Northern father, I am a fan of dark, dark humour!

Favourite radio show?

Fiachna Ó Braonáin’s Late Date on RTÉ Radio 1. I always find something new, and his deep voice is very soothing on a late night drive home. It also got me out of trouble with the guards once for accidentally going down a one way street at 2am! They pulled me over, and Fiachna was playing me on the radio, and they let me off! Loved Bob Dylan’s ‘Theme Time Radio’ too... that voice, and wit!

Your signature dish if cooking?

Inisheer Crab (tacos) with mussels in garlic ‘real’ butter to start... I try to avoid cooking, but when I do, it’s 5 star meals. I love going to Toonsbridge in the English market with my mom too.

Favourite restaurant?

New discovery - Palestinian Izz Cafe.

Last book you read?

Just finished Colum McCann’s This Side Of Brightness. I love his writing. I am always reading.

Clare Sands and Steve Cooney. Picture 
Clare Sands and Steve Cooney. Picture 

Best book you read?

Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search Kor Meaning springs to mind as one that definitely put things into perspective

Last album/CD/download you bought?

Armagh powerhouse Brian Finnegan’s Hunger Of The Skin - fierce and pulsating, with a mysticism running throughout.

Favourite song?

Too many - Buckets Of Rain by Bob Dylan is definitely a favourite. Anything that man does....

One person you would like to see in concert?

Led Zeppelin, and if I can’t get them, Alison Krauss and Robert Plant.

Do you have a pet?

Mara and Grace O’Malley - A golden retriever and cocker spaniel, that are full of life. My favourite thing to do in the world is walk them through the fields of North Cork on a daily basis.

Morning person or night owl?

Morning person when the sea is near... it’s the best wake-up call in the world. Nothing can rattle you after the 7 degree Atlantic first thing in the morning...

Your proudest moment?

Winning three world medals for Ireland in Karate. Working with fantastic students weekly in St Paul’s Special School, Montenotte.

Spendthrift or saver?

Spontaneous soul, but also a virgo...

Name one thing you would improve in your area in which you live?

More outlets for creativity... weekly gatherings of music, art, dance... can we bring dancing at the crossroads back!?

What makes you happy?

Grá! Music. Nature. Swimming. A really well made Barrys. The simple things.

How would you like to be remembered?

As someone who gave back. Lived with passion, for all that I did.

What else are you up to at the moment?

New EP Tírdhreacha agus Fuaimdhreacha is out the end of January (27th), featuring Susan O’Neill, Steve Cooney and my cousin Tommy Sands, Brídín, Liam Ó Maonlaí, followed by my album later in the year.

Daily sea swims and walks with the madraí, living well and kindly, to myself, and others.


Spanning over four seasons in the four provinces of Ireland, alongside four different collaborators, Tírdreacha Agus Fuaimdreacha (Landscapes & Soundscapes) is a musical journey featuring renowned Folk and Traditional musicians, Susan O’Neill, Steve Cooney with Tommy Sands, Brídín and Liam Ó Maonlaí.

Taking inspiration from the landscapes and soundscapes of our unique island, Sands and her collaborators followed their roots and their sprawl, navigating through uncharted territories where Irish and English languages, traditional, folk and contemporary music meets.

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