Gerry Cody - A Kilkenny and national treasure

Sean Keane

Reporter:

Sean Keane

Email:

sean.keane@kilkennypeople.ie

The Watergate Wizard

Gerry Cody

Fun just seems to follow some people around. They are born with that happy gene. One in particular comes to mind. A natural, comic genius, famous in the 1980s for dressing up as a cleric and fooling everyone in the city with his priestly ways.
He would walk down John Street with the collar on and with a confident Canon-like wave stop traffic.
Old ladies would ask him to hear their confessions and rumour has it that he was offered several parishes.
My abiding memory of Gerry Cody is of a young boy aged five or six, shooting Gerry with a toy gun from the back window of a car and Gerry pretending to be shot on the street at James's Green.
The boy said to his father; ‘I got him dad’.
It was with some surprise that the young lad met Gerry the following day. Luckily he had his six shooter with him so he shot Gerry again. This time Gerry lay mortally wounded on the pavement. And the young lad said to his father; ‘he won’t get up this time.’
That's a moment that one little boy and his father will never forget.
Gerry Cody is better known as the manager of the Watergate Theatre on Parliament street.
It is one of the most successful municipal theatres in the country and a lot of that, I think, is down to his guidance, charm and heart felt love of all things theatrical.
He has a deep and abiding love of Irish literature and in particular drama and when he directs a play, he goes to the core of the text, to eke out the nuances, the precise meaning of the playwright’s word.
The reason I am embarrassing Gerry Cody is because we do not make enough of our heroes. I am continuously in awe of his energy and his love of humanity.
And even as he ambles along with his walking stick or ruck sack, you expect some little gem in terms of a word, a gesture, some little physical movement to set off a laugh.
He is one of those people you look forward to meeting - A man without an enemy.
When I started work in the Kilkenny People 29 years ago, Gerry or Ger as he is also known, was a printer with the paper on High Street. He always had a kind word or a little wink or a nod for the ‘new lad’ - just some little pleasantry to make you feel better about yourself.
The more I think about Gerry Cody, I think of his selflessness, his empathy, his sense of fun, his countless unseen good deeds, his love of his fellow human beings.
Last weekend I saw him in the play, The Kings Of The Kilburn High Road at the Watergate and he was utterly superb.
One of the funniest anecdotes about Gerry dates from around 1990.
He and a group of other amateur actors with The New Theatre Group, turned up at Hotel Kilkenny for a wedding that the staff knew nothing about.
Ger as the bride’s father swore he had booked it. He hadn’t because it was a mock wedding.
Hotel manager, Richard Butler, a consummate professional, was completely blindsided and assumed there had been a mistake made at the hotel end. Drawing on all his experience, within an hour his team had the wedding party seated at the reception where Gerry had beautiful words to say about the bride, his would-be daughter.
Gerry and the other make-believe guests played their parts to perfection and a band was summoned out of thin air and they all danced away into the small hours.
It was absolutely the best fun and afterwards it was used as a publicity stunt for the hotel which got a lot of weddings out of it while Gerry and his co-conspirators made a lot of people happy.