The people of Enniscorthy turned out in large numbers last week-end to bid a final farewell to Pat Cody, chairman of the Urban District Council and vice chair of Wexford County Council.
Government ministers, TDs, senators, Mayors of Wexford and Kilkenny, councillors, Trade Union officials and former work colleagues gathered with local residents for the funeral of the charismatic councillor. Former Ceann Comhairle Seamus Pattisson also attended.
The passing of Pat prompted both Enniscorthy UDC and Wexford County Council to hold special meeting at which tributes were paid to their former colleague. Flags on all civic buildings flew at half mast and a public book of condolences was opened.
Born in 1 Newpark, Kilkenny, Pat moved to Enniscorthy in 1976 to pursue a nursing career in St Senan’s Psychiatric Hospital. He was a caring and considerate nurse.
He took the lead in instigating regular outings for those in his care. The hospital mini bus traversed the county bringing patients to events at Wexford Park, Rosslare, Kilmore Quay and many other venues. The addition of an annual holiday to Tramore brought further happiness. Pat served St Senan’s for 35 years, and at the time of his retirement was Clinical Nursing Manager.
During his time in the nursing profession, Pat became involved with the Trade Union movement. He pursued fair and proper conditions for all workers, and recognising the ability of the Union movement to help people, SIPTU became an integral part of his life. He later became the south eastern regional manager.
Marriage to fellow nurse Breda McGill and the birth of daughter Aislinn invigorated Pat and saw him settle into the easy rhythm of life in Enniscorthy. Following a family tradition he became involved in the arts. Soon he was appearing with the musical society and the drama group.
Pat was a learned man, with a deep and abiding passion for words and books. His extensive library was updated constantly. He was heavily involved in the education sector.
He played a leading role in securing a new building for the Gaelscoil in Enniscorthy. As a member of the Board of Management of Adamstown and Enniscorthy VEC he worked to ensure that students’ needs were fulfilled.
Responding to the tragic passing of his brother Joe and to the appeals of local activists, he reluctantly allowed his name to go forward as a Labour party candidate for the 2009 local elections. He was comfortably elected to the Enniscorthy Urban Council and to Wexford County Council. Pat underwent a major medical procedure in St Vincent’s Hospital on the morning of his election. Some hours later, showing remarkable resolve, he accepted the chain of office from outgoing chairman Keith Doyle. He was delighted with the honour, and in a stirring speech of raw emotion, declared ‘I have suffered bad health recently, but to hell with that, I want to give something back to the people and to the town I love’.
Though immersed in the artistic, spiritual, sporting and cultural activities of Enniscorthy and the wider Wexford area, Pat remained true to his native place. This was epitomised by his fanatical support for Kilkenny hurling.
His devotion to the Stripey Men saw him travel around the country for league and championship encounters. He also attended many club matches in Kilkenny, especially if his beloved O’ Loughlins were in action.
If unable to attend a match, friends in Kilkenny would be assailed with a plethora texts and phone calls, before, during and after the game. Compensation also came in the form of match programmes supplied by Damien O’ Connell and Jim Fogarty.
St Aidan’s Cathedral was packed to capacity for the funeral Mass. Chief celebrant Fr Richard Lawless was joined by many clerical colleagues.
Addressing the congregation, his daughter Aislinn thanked all who had helped her dad in his final illness especially his GP and friend James Deveroux as well as the palliative care team. She also thanked his many friends whose encouragement enabled her dad to carry on to the end with a smile on his face. She expressed her gratitude to her mother, Breda, for her endless love and support.
On behalf of the Cody family, Pat’s brother Gerry gave a eulogy of passion, emotion, sadness and humour. He ended by quoting WB Yeats to capture the essence of his brother’s life and his relationship with his adopted home:
“Ask not where man’s glory most begins or ends
But say my glory was I had such friends.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, to the sound of ‘The Rose of Mooncoin’ sung by his niece, Kathleen Cody, Pat’s coffin was carried by family and friends. A guard of honour was provided by St Senan’s, SIPTU members, Enniscorthy Drama Group, Enniscorthy Musical Society, Labour Party members, and councillors.
At the graveside, a Black and Amber flag fluttered, as Pat’s lifelong friend, John Marnell, sprinkled soil from the Cody garden in Kilkenny into the grave. Enniscorthy Town Clerk, David Minogue, spoke for all when he said ‘Pat Cody showed us how to live and also how to die – with courage and with fortitude’.