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Jim Cody: A romantic at heart

by Jimmy Rhatigan

YOU WOULD go a long way to find a sounder couple than Sally and Jim Cody of Wetlands on the periphery of Kilkenny City.

The late Sally was warm, friendly, kind and caring.

Husband Jim who has passed away at Tinnypark Nursing Home was as sound as the proverbial trout, entertaining, great company and quite witty.

The common denominator was that both had a beautiful love affair with a family they reared so well.

Jim and his son Fran were blessed among women. 

Daughters Kay, Joan, Breda, Caroline and Jacinta completed a close-knit family that was so united and loving to parents for whom they had so much respect.

The irony was that Jim should end his days at Tinnypark Nursing Home, once Tinnypark Bar and lodgings.

It was in Tinnypark Bar that Jim spent many happy evenings in the company of his fellow musician and friend, Pat Shortis, entertaining customers with music and song, Jim on the accordion and Pat on the saxophone, with the pair of them on vocals.

Fr Time was kind to Jim and Pat as the larger than life characters provided music and fun for their fellow citizens for God only knows how many years.


Fittingly, always tops of the boys’ agenda were regular visits to local nursing homes and hospitals, blasting out festive music and singing Rudolph songs for ill and elderly who had been regular fans of the duo for decades.

When he was not playing the box or doing justice to a ballad, Jim enjoyed a few pints of Guinness with friends at Seamus Rafter’s Sceilp Inn.

I enjoyed his company.

His opening line on arrival would be ‘Great day Jemser and he forecast is that we can expect even better for the weekend.’

Jim loved life and liked nothing better than a stroll with his walking stick in the great outdoors, preferably in the sunshine, but he braved winter elements too.

I remember well the day I interviewed Jim for a Kilkenny People newspaper profile many, many moons ago.

Jim was in powerful form as we sat in the backyard at his home, travelling down memory lane, sipping tea and with regular intermissions for what he called a few tunes on his accordion.

We swapped stories and discovered we were romantics at heart.

Well, sort of.

Sally and Jim had the time of their lives, he told me, as they toured Leinster in what was then called a scut truck.


The delivery truck, driven by Jim, was loaned to him by the late Kilkenny sawmill owner, Paddy Hennessy, a great city GAA man.

My own story was nearly as good.

Post nuptials, my wife Ann and I thumbed a lift to Dublin on our honeymoon.

Like his pal in music, Jim enjoyed a long and happy life. 

As they had done throughout their lives, the siblings of Sally and Jim Cody gave their hearts to their dad right to the end that they never wanted to come.

The boys, dubbed The Wetlands Orchestra, for obvious reasons, are now together again.

Should St Peter decide to run a fundraising concert, he won’t have to look far to find a top of the bill act.

Thanks for the great memories Jim and Pat.

You lit up thousands of lives over the years.

The Wetlands Orchestra is no more but it will always live in our hearts.

Jim will repose at his daughter Breda’s home, 24 Archer’s Avenue from Monday, February 28 with rosary at 6pm.

Requiem Mass is on Tuesday, March 1 at St Patrick’s Church followed by interment at Foulkstown Cemetery.

The following is an opinion piece I wrote about The Wetlands Orchestra, at another time.

WHAT IS arguably the world’s smallest orchestra, had a special reason to celebrate this week.
One of its two members is 82 years young.
The other recently celebrated his 90th birthday.
Nonagenarian, Pat Shortis of Newpark and Jim Cody of Wetlands, Kilkenny, make up Kilkenny’s most famous musical outfit, The Wetlands Orchestra.
Sax player, whistler, singer and comedian, Pat, and his mate,
accordionist, Jim Cody, have been singing and playing music togetherfor a lifetime – indeed two lifetimes.
They are hugely popular around Kilkenny City and County where they still play regularly for charity, in nursing homes, hospitals and for parish fundraising groups.
A retired Smithwick’s Brewery worker, Pat is in great health and loves teaming up with his ‘young friend’, Jim for a music session.
Family and friends, including his wife, Sally, joined Jim for his 82nd birthday celebration in Gorman’s famous GAA Pub in Upper John Street, Kilkenny.
It was a cracking party night, with The Wetlands Orchestra stealing the show with a super performance of music hall numbers and old time jokes that had the big attendance really rocking.
Between them, the orchestral pair has 172 years. If that were the sum total of years in a youth orchestra, there would be up to 15 musicians involved.
Over the years, Pat has played music with his son, Seán, and the pair was known as The Shortis Brothers.
When Pat and Jim, a retired delivery man and driver, teamed up, they played together for years and it was a chat among friends at Jim’s local, The Sceilp Inn, a brisk walk from his Wetlands home that led to the illustrious title of The Wetlands Orchestra.
Since the christening over a few pints of stout, the duo has never looked back. The orchestra has been involved in shows at Kilkenny’s Watergate Theatre. 

The boys have welcomed successful Kilkenny All-Ireland hurling teams.
But their great claim to fame is that they will play ‘a few tunes’ for any company ‘at the drop of a hat’, as, wherever Pat and Jim end up, their musical instruments are never far behind.

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