Random Ramblings from a Republican
Friday, May 22, 2009
My Brother Bobby
by: Bernadette Sands
An Phoblacht/Republican News
May 9th, 1981

Bobby was seven then, As he grew older he was always up to some mischief.

Bernie recalls: "We were on holiday in Waterford, and he was mad on fishing. He must have been only about nine or ten at the time. We were down at the quay where all these fishermen were with their tackle, and he was standing with only a wee hand-reel and a bit of Dairylea cheese at the bottom of it. But he kept pulling in the fish, and all these men were looking at him.

"So, when he came home that evening, my mother put him to bed. But he got up with Marcella and the two of them sneaked out and down to the quay. My mother found them there, the two of them, in the darkness, standing there with the Dairylea cheese, still trying to catch the fish, and she nearly killed the two of them.

"Bobby hid all the fish he caught under our caravan and never told my mother. We got this awful smell, and the next morning there were al these fish lying rotten underneath the caravan and he had to go and throw them away.... He was always mischievous.

"When we were kids we used to be in a kind of wee gang, and we used to go way up the hill near us, the Carnmoney Hill, and build a hut. And Bobby would light a fire, making chips and things like that. He took my mother's pots and her food and we'd all be sitting around toasting bread, imagining we were camping out. Then my mother would catch us and she would half-kill us.

"One day we were up the hill and a dog bit me. Before Bobby would let my mother know, he took me down to the hospital. He would always avoid my mother knowing things that would worry her - if we, or he, fell and hurt ourselves, for example - she never even knew half the things that happened."

Similarly, in later years, when Bobby was imprisoned, he would never tell the family about any beatings by warders, any spells in the punishment block, or any sickness. He always made light of everything and never complained to his visitors, even when he was suffering agonising pains on Hungerstrike.


Bernie remembers how protective he was towards his sisters: "When we were kids he was always protecting us, myself and Marcella. If anyone went to hit us he would jump in. He was always small for his age and he used to get murdered by different fellows in the street, bigger fellows, and still he would go out and beat them back. Bobby wouldn't let anyone touch us.

"Also, I remember how stubborn he was. If we had done something wrong in the house, my mother would put us outside to play and then when she called us in Bobby wouldn't come in. He would wait until she asked him. There was always this stubborn attitude the whole time.

"Or if he got hit he wouldn't let anyone see him crying. He just went about as if nothing had happened. When he got beatings from other kids he would get up and either hit back or walk away. Even if he collapsed around the corner after the beating, he wouldn't let others see it. He just wouldn't give in to people."

An attitude that, later in life, when he was imprisoned, he was to reproduce time and time again until his dying breath.


Even when the four Sands children were young their mother told them about "the Troubles" during the twenties and the thirties, and she told them about what her grandmother, a staunch republican, had told her.

Bernie recalls: "Once "the Troubles" started it wasn't as if it came out of the blue, or that we suddenly became aware... When we saw the riots on television my mother would say: look that's what we went through, exactly the same thing. She used to always say to us: I hope you will never have to go through what we went through. But then the same thing did happen all over again"

Bernie recalls how Bobby decided to become an active republican: "I was young at the time, still at school, but he saw that many things happening around him. "The Troubles" we getting underway, the rioting was on television, and different people were getting shot and terrible things like that. He was just at the age when he was beginning to become aware of these things happening around him. He more or less just said "right, this is when I'm going to take up." He was about sixteen or seventeen when he became involved.

"There were a couple of our cousins arrested and interned, and Bobby felt that he should get involved and start doing something because it was starting to hit home now."

**A few more days of this article, as its a long one.

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Ta ar la anois.

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