The mother of Bobby Sands MP died this day in 2018. She was 95. She was born in the Markets area of south Belfast in 1922 and her father died when she was just 12 years old. The young Rosaleen Kelly was set to emigrate to New Zealand, with a job lined up at the other end of the long journey, when she met her husband John Sands. The couple would go on to marry and raise four children.
As reported in the Irish News, at her funeral in Louth, her daughter Bernadette said:
“Many claimed to know Rosaleen Sands (and she) figured in many books, films and documentaries that were written and produced by people who never met her. She was a working class girl from a working class area and my mother never forgot her roots… She was a principled person who had times of trouble.”
None of the children were allowed to “leave the house without first saying our prayers, blessing ourselves with holy water”.
When their son Bobby was jailed, “my parents never missed a visit” and when the hunger strikes began “set about doing all in their power to highlight” the protest.
While in Long Kesh Bobby wrote this beautiful poem for his mother.
Dear Mum, I know you’re always there
To help and guide me with all your care,
You nursed and fed me and made me strong
To face the world and all its wrong.
What can I write to you this day
For a line or two would never pay
For care and time you gave to me
Through long hard years unceasingly.
How you found strength I do not know
How you managed I’ll never know,
Struggling and striving without a break
Always there and never late.
You prayed for me and loved me more
How could I ask for anymore
And reared me up to be like you
But I haven’t a heart as kind as you.
A guide to me in times of plight
A princess like a star so bright
For life would never have been the same
If I hadn’t of learned what small things came.
So forgive me Mum just a little more
For not loving you so much before,
For life and love you gave to me
I give my thanks for eternity.
Rosaleen Sands was with her son, Bobby, when he died Tuesday, May 5th 1981