We interview Maureen Codd from Cuckoos Nest ahead of upcoming Opera House performance

The Late Late Toy Show 2022 was among the most memorable in recent memory, however, the highlight that captured the hearts and minds of the viewing public was Maureen Codd and her family or as they are also known ‘The Cuckoo’s Nest’.

It is not hard to see why The Cuckoo’s Nest captured the imagination of the nation and the attention of the national media. The sheer amount of musical talent in one family is quite astounding and the clear closeness in this close knit family was endearing and evident for all to see. The group has gone from strength to strength with the group returning to the Late Late Show for the trad special.

Indeed Maureen Codd was invited back to perform as part of Ryan Tubridy’s final Late Late Show. The Wexford trad group even received an invitation to Áras an Uachtarán to meet with President Michael D Higgins. Ahead of their highly anticipated show in the National Opera House on August 19th, we sat down with Maureen Codd to discuss their meteoric rise. 

Early Inspirations:

Indeed, it is very clear that Maureen Codd has a deep love of music and has been a musical inspiration to her family. The question then must be asked who inspired this love of music in Mrs. Codd? Mrs. Codd stated she “had a great love of music” since she was “very young” which was in no small part inspired by two nuns at her primary school who were “very big into music”. Mrs. Codd described a musical odyssey in primary school where they “started on tin whistles” and went on to learn the accordion and guitar. It was in this musical environment that she discovered that she “had a love for it ” and added “it is nice to nurture it from when you’re very young”.  

Maureen Codd’s love of music was aided by the school band run by the nuns and according to Maureen that’s where her love for music “really started”.  Mrs. Codd’s love for music followed her to secondary school in Carrick-on-Suir, co. Tipperary where she participated in the school orchestra. Mrs. Codd also cited her own family as inspirations for her love of music. She fondly recalled how her “father was very very fond of music”. Mrs. Codd recalled how he was a “very musical man” but lamented the fact “at his time he wouldn’t have got the chances that we did”. 

A Family Affair:

 It is clear from the sheer talent of the Cuckoo’s Nest group that the Codd household is most certainly one in which music is appreciated and cherished. Mrs. Codd told us how the family’s love of music did not merely come from her, but also from her husband Joe.

Tthe kids would’ve gotten it from both sides. Joe was very musical… and he played saxophone,” she said.

Mrs. Codd told us playing music as a family group had begun with her daughter Maureen with whom she has played music since she was a “tiny-tot”. They began playing for the local choir in Cleariestown and went on to play in different venues and with a group of musicians mostly from Crossabeg. Once “the kids got married and had their children” it became apparent “from an early age” that many of Mrs. Codd’s grandchildren “were musical”.

Mrs. Codd claimed from an early age they would enthusiastically dance and sing so they purchased tin whistles for them to nurture their musical talent. In the earlier years, Mrs. Codd and her daughter Maureen taught them to play the tin whistle and “as they got older they picked their own musical instruments, whatever one they wanted”. Once “6 or 8” of the grandchildren had displayed this aptitude for music they “put some simple tunes together”. Following this, they “would go to one another’s houses and practice” by which point more of the grandchildren had reached a stage of picking their own musical instruments which left the burgeoning group with a diverse range of instruments from flutes to accordions to the concertina, violins and a piano Mrs. Codd described the group as “a joint effort” in which they perform certain tunes they are very fond of but always try to put their “own styles and harmonies to it”. 

A Culture of Music:

What makes the Cuckoo’s Nest a truly extraordinary and unique group is not merely their extremely impressive talent but the fact that such talent exists within one family. Undoubtedly such musical talent can only come from a family in which a love of music is nurtured and encouraged. According to Mrs. Codd that is undoubtedly the case and it can be traced back to herself and her husband Joe who “always exposed them to music”

“They would always have been brought to the light opera since they were children. They always were amazed at the big orchestra down in the orchestra pit… I suppose they were always exposed to it,” she remarked.

Indeed, the Codd family have endeavoured to the present day to pass on this love for music and according to Mrs. Codd “I’ve little two and three-year-olds here now and they would sing you a song” she remarked how “little Jess Óg, who’s only two… would sing and sing in tune”. 

A Magical Toy Show: 

The Cuckoo’s Nest group won national acclaim and stole the show when they appeared on last year’s Late Late Toy Show. According to Mrs. Codd the road to the Late Late Toy Show was made possible by their win on the ‘Reálta agus Gaolta’ competition on TG4. Having awed those conducting the auditions for the show with their talent they were asked to appear on the Late Late Toy Show. Mrs. Codd fondly recalled their appearance on the Late Late Show as a treasured family memory claiming “it was great because the whole family went” she described a fantastic atmosphere as around 30 members of the family stayed in the Stillorgan Park Hotel telling us how they’d had “a great night” and “a right auld session”. Mrs Codd described the whole experience as “very special” and said of the Toyshow itself that it was a great memory which they will always cherish. 

Mrs. Codd told us how they were asked to go back for the Late Late Show Trad Music Special. She then described how RTÉ invited them back for Ryan Tubridy’s final show as Late Late host but didn’t have room for all of them on account of how big a show it was for Ryan’s last night as host. Mrs. Codd described a memorable and lively session after Ryan’s last show. Mrs. Codd described how they “played all night” and had “the greatest session” spurred on by “the sheer love of it ”. She described playing along Sharon Shannon and Dubliner’s legend John Sheehan as “very enjoyable”.

 Áras an Uachtarán and meeting President Higgins:

The Cuckoo’s Nest group were invited to put their talent on display at Áras an Uachtarán for President Higgins and his wife Sabina. Mrs Codd described a “lovely… fabulous sunny day” at the Áras and described President Higgins and Sabina as “lovely”. Mrs. Codd told us how they spoke with the President “for ages” and further praised him as “a nice man with a word for everyone” with “a passion for culture and music”.  

A Night at the Opera House:

The Cuckoo’s Nest group will take to the stage of the National Opera House on the 19th of August and Mrs. Codd told us how each member of the group was immensely “looking forward to it” and expressed hope for a “great night” hoping to see “plenty of support”.  She told us how many members of the group are well-seasoned performers in the National Opera House and told us how the group as a whole were anticipating a great night. Between the National Opera House and multiple appearances on the Late Late Show it has been an eventful year for the Codd family but when asked what the highlight of their musical journey was Mrs. Codd gave a quote which really shows what makes this group so special and proves their love of music is so sincere.

The quote bears repeating in full: 

“The highlight of the journey is the joy I get out of playing with my own children and my grandchildren. No matter where I play even if it is in the kitchen with them, that is the highlight. I don’t care if it’s the Áras or wherever it is, I enjoy that of course I do, but I get a sheer joy out of going up to their house and they say ‘Cuckoo I have a new tune’. I’d say ‘oh that’s brilliant’ and then we’d all learn it. That is the joy I get out of it, just the joy of playing with my grandchildren”.  

It has been an eventful year for the Cuckoo’s Nest group in which they have received national recognition for their talent and dedication. It is clear there is a bright future ahead for this talented group of musicians all under the watchful eye of Maureen Codd.

Their performance in the National Opera House on August 19th is yet another milestone in what has been a successful year for the group and promises to be an excellent night of ‘craic agus ceol’. The band will be performing in support of St Anne’s GAA club in the National Opera House for this special event. Tickets can be purchased online on the Wexford National Opera House website, starting from 28 euro.

Darragh Sinnott

From Wexford, Darragh is a columnist with an interest in sports, politics, history, and all-things Wexford related.

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