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Festive cheer for Rackard’s party

AMID the doom and gloom of dark evenings and bitterly cold weather, the people of Skeoughvosteen, Graiguenamanagh, The Rower and Inistioge will have something to smile about this festive season as Rackard Cody’s annual Christmas party returns to the Springhill Court Hotel this Sunday, 13th December.

Chief among the attractions on the day will be a raffle with a top prize of a holiday voucher worth €2,000 as well as oil vouchers and a top-of-the-range bicycle, all donated by local businesses. With a total prize fund of over €3,000, tickets are a bargain at only €5 each. Proceedings kick off at 1pm with a special Christmas dinner. “We have music, we have bingo worth €600 with free entry, we have the raffle… the sky’s the limit!” remarked Cody. “It’s better than any wedding in Ireland.”

Special guests on the day will include Mayor of Kilkenny, Cllr Malcolm Noonan, Meath-based MEP Mairéad McGuinness, and a flying visit from Santa Claus who will act as a special guest bingo caller later in the evening. Buses will be provided to shepherd senior citizens from Graiguenamanagh and The Rower to the venue.

Among the fundraising activities for the party is the raffle of 20 limited-edition, specially manufactured ‘four-headed’ hurls autographed by the captains of Kilkenny’s four-in-a-row All-Ireland champions. The special ceremonial hurls, mounted in beautiful wooden frames, are being raffled off through pubs around the county over the coming weeks, with the first such auction taking place at Keogh’s in Callan on Friday, 18th December, where members of the current All-Ireland crop will be on hand to draw the winner.

While the annual get-together started out as an event for more senior residents almost 50 years ago, the occasion has become a much-anticipated day out for locals of all ages in recent years. Cody hopes to see a record turnout of over 300 for this year’s event.

Cody is a widely-known figure in GAA circles as a long-time member of the Kilkenny senior hurling backroom team – he is the squad’s current kit manager – and has now been chairman of the organising committee for two decades.

Cody was thankful to Paul Kavanagh, of J.J. Kavanagh & Sons coach hire, who are supporting this year’s event. Kavanagh said it was “super” for Kavanagh’s, as official carriers of the Kilkenny teams, “to be involved in the four-in-a-row team, and eight All-Ireland finals in the last ten years – we’re thrilled to be able to help out, it’s great to give Rackard a help out.” Cody also thanked John O’Neill of Citroen who has donated the wine being served on the day.

The party was officially launched at Kilkenny Castle yesterday (Tuesday) by current Kilkenny panellists Jackie Tyrrell, Michael Rice and Michael Grace, who were joined by Paul Kavanagh and Jim Power, the squad’s official busdriver.