Carry On

© By Tommy Sands

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​Tommy sands wrote and performed this song as an interjection into the peace talks that took place at Stormont in the lead up to the ‘Good Friday’ Agreement of 1998.

“The week of the Good Friday Agreement was a very tense time. The politicians were under severe pressure. They were worried not about their opponents but about their supporters. It was like two trains meeting on a narrow bridge and neither driver wanted to give way because they didn’t want to let down their passengers. It was only when the passengers got up and went to the driver and said ‘look it’s al right you can go back a bit because we all want to go forward’. It was only then that the political landscape began to change.

The TV didn’t help much either. Television can’t deal with peace very well. If you put a calm sea and a blue sky on a TV screen and hold that shot for more than five seconds people will be getting their remote controls searching for storms. For TV is about moving pictures not still ones.

My friend Vedran Smailovic, the cellist of Sarajevo, was sitting at home with me discussing these things. We decided to create a storm for the six o’clock news. With Protestant and Catholic children from Dundrum in Co Down, Robbie Dinsmore, Roy Arbuckle’s Different drums and my late great friend Davy Hammond we headed with a new song for Stormont Castle. The Talks were faltering so we just needed the chorus to be heard, to “Carry on” with talking.

When the politicians inside heard us they came out and joined in the chorus. John Hume, David Trimble, Gerry Adams, David Ervine and all the others.”

Later Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon would describe the sound of the children singing as “a decisive moment”.

Copyright courtesy Tommy Sands


We are standing by this castle fine
In a hopeful Belfast breeze
With a song that’s new and a call for you
To try again for peace
Corry on carry on, you con hear the people singing
Corry on carry on, ‘til peace will come again
All the lonely years of sorrow
Let the tears be not in vain
We can build a new tomorrow
And everyone can gain
In the Bogside and the Waterside
In the Shankill and the Falls
All around the hills of Ulster
You can hear them sing this song
Don’t betray your children’s birthright
That’s the right to stay alive
For there is no greater treachery
Than to let your children die

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