2011 Irish National Award nomination for Tommy Sands

This year "Country Ceili" produced and presented by Tommy Sands has been nominated for an Irish Radio Oscar, the National PPI awards of 2011, to be held at a Gala Event in Kilkenny on October 7th. The programme in question features cultural contributions from leading politicians from an All Party Party organised by Sands in Northern Ireland Parliament Buildings to mark the first completion of a full parliament term in Northern Ireland since 1972 and to celebrate the release of his new cd "Arising from the Troubles".

Tommy Sands has presented his unique weekly Country Ceili programme on Downtown Radio, Belfast, without a break since August 1977. It is one of the longest running folk music programmes in these islands and continues to be one of the most popular.

"Ceili", for Sands, is not just music, but chat and a get together too, just like the gatherings in his own family home when he was growing up.

Folk and traditional music is the main focus of the programme but, as well as playing all the recent recorded releases, he likes to travel the Ulster countryside recording the music and stories of the older people who may never otherwise be heard.

He believes that the music can be a great force for unity and healing in a divided society like Northern Ireland and the "Folks" who have dropped into the programme to take part include the late Cardinal O'Fee to sing "The Oul Orange Flute", Rev Ian Paisley to tell jokes, Lord Fitt to play "Roisin Dubh" on the mouth organ or Gerry Adams and David Ervine to reminisce about their youthful days in Belfast. Country Ceili can be heard each Sunday night between six o'clock and seven on Downtown Radio in Northern Ireland, and can be heard on the internet www.downtown.co.uk or at www.radiofeeds.co.uk