This article was originally published in Galway Roots, Clanna na Gaillimhe (volume 5 1998).
The Castlegar Codys in New Zealand
By Pádraic Ó Laoi
At the turn of the century, because of the large families parents had and the lack of opportunities of employment at home, young men and women were faced with the stark choice of a life of drudgery and poverty at home or emigrating to new lands with the hope of bettering themselves. Generally they emigrated to America where they joined up with uncles and aunts who had emigrated in the 1870s.
For some unknown reason other than that the English government was giving free passages to New Zealand, many emigrants from Castlegar chose to go to New Zealand and settle there. These were hardworking men prepared to become pioneers in taming the wilderness of the New Zealand outback. I can find no record of women emigrating to New Zealand except as wives or wives-to-be of men emigrants.
Sometime about 1870, two brothers, Patt and Lawrence Cody (Codum) left their home in Mionloch and emigrated to New Zealand. Their parents were William Cody and Ellen Casserly, who had 7 children.. Patt took with him to Australia as his bride a Fahy girl from the pier at Mionloch. Patt and Lawrence settled in the south of the southern island of New Zealand, fifty or so miles south of Dunedin.
Here, the going was rough and tough. They were six miles from a school with no road. They had to travel cross-country to school to a teacher who fond of the bottle, and a brute, who took it out on the boys with a four-tailed strap. The day before the inspector was due in the school the inspector said to the children from Waipounamu "I don't want any of you dunces to come to school tomorrow and spoil the exam sheet". However, the school was shifted to a more suitable site and the young Codys earned certificates of competency from the education Department of Southland, New Zealand, in July 1898. Patt Cody had a family of six sons and one daughter at Waipounamu. It was a backward district where letters were delivered only once a week and when the Boer war started the people had to go to Riversdale if one wanted the news. No wonder contact with Mionloch was gradually broken especially when Patt's parents died.
We are indebted to Patrick Cody, Timaru, New Zealand, grandson of our 1870 emigrant, Patt, for filling in some episodes in the lives of his father and uncles. A local New Zealand paper The Green ray in its issue of August 1st 1917 records the victory of Edward (sic) De Valera in the election in east Clare as The greatest victory yet achieved by Sinn Féin. A particular hopeful aspect of the Clare victory was the splendid courage and outspokenness displayed by the successful candidate , the peasantry and the young priests. ... The mean criticisms of the reptile press in these enslaved islands are but the wails of the whipped and bespittled curs. In that same issue of The Green Ray we read of the arrest of two the Cody brothers, Patrick and John (son of Patt) of Riversdale. Patrick was president of the Irish club there and an Irishman of the manliest type. Both these young men have been persecuted and slandered in the Gore and attempts have been made to injure the living of their aged and invalid parent (Patt senior) who is now left all alone at the end of his life's pilgrimage.
The case of the Cody brothers arose from the fact that when in 1917 the the law of conscriptions was passed in New Zealand, compelling young men to join the army and go to Europe to fight for England in the great war of 1914-18, the Cody boys had conscientious objections. In due time the whole of the Cody brothers were called up under Section 25. Two of them were exempted and three of them were ordered into camp ad went "on the run". A sepcial sitting of the board was held to deal with the case and the result was that the two exempted brothers were called up.
They duly received notivce of the deision of the Board and were given six days to make arrangements for carrying on the work on the farms. At the sitting of the Board, patrick Cody decalred that he was in charge of the three farms held by the Cody family comprising in all 2,739 acres. There were mortgages of £12, 320 on the properties, bearing interest at 6% in addition to a rentals of £80 per year, so that over £860 had to paid out annually. The stock employed in farming the properties consisted of 64 horses, 20 cattle and 1800 sheep. This meant they had four plough teams, one team for each division of the land. The crops consisted of 80 acres of wheat, 180 acres of oats, 200 acres of turnips, 480 acres of fescue grass (hay).
Patt Cody was now in his 87th year, sickly and confined to bed and could not be expected to mange the farm. Neighbours appealed to the Minster of Defence in Wellington for the release of the two brothers. The reply from J. Allen, Minister of Defence, was invariably the same as we read from one of his letters of December 20th 1917:
Sir, I have received your letter of the 12th inst. Asking that Patrick and John Cody may be granted leave until after the harvest and regret that I am unable to accede to the request. I would point out that the appeals of these soldiers were adjourned sine die [not naming a day] on the condition that the other three brothers went into camp. The latter however have failed to report and their whereabouts have not yet been located by the police.
Yours faithfully J. Allen, Minister of Defence
In due time Patrick Cody was released and returned to farming at Waipounamu up until 1926 when he took his own farm of 400 acres near Invercargill town at the most southern point of the southern island. He retired from the farm in 1943 and lived in Invercargill until his death there in `967. His son Patrick (the third Patrick) lived at Invercargill until 1978 when he shifted to Timaru with his family. In 1990 he shifted to Wellington and since 1994 he lives in Timaru. He visited Castlegar in July 1996 tracing his roots and sent us all rooting in our records to find a "Jack" Cody (a nephew of Pat senior) who had emigrated to New Zealand in 1915 or so. Let us first place him in the Cody family tree.
A brother of Patt Cody senior inherited the family holding and married in Carrigbrowne. Thomas (Patt's brother) married Bridget Bermingham with whom he had eleven children, three of whom died in their infancy. John was the fifth child in the family, born in 1892. He was known to his neighbours as Séan, but while in New Zealand he was known as Jack. Jack emigrated to New Zealand in 1915 out to his uncle Lawrence. After some years he moved to another district and was soon forgotten about.
One day the rumour was brought to Lawrence's home that Jack was burned to death in a bush fire. There was no truth in the rumour. Jack, for some reason or other, and left New Zealand and made his way to Patagonia in Southern America. Eventually he returned to Galway and married Mary Cody of Carrigbrowne. This new family moved into Bohermore in Galway city.