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Wednesday 20 August 2014

'I'm a very patient woman and that's the secret' - Gay Byrne and Kathleen Watkins celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary

Kirsty Blake Knox

Published 25/06/2014 | 08:46

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Fame on the Menu: Kathleen Watkins and Gay Byrne at the DoubleTree by Hilton. Photo: Tony Gavin.
Kathleen Watkins and Gay Byrne Photo: Tony Gavin.

Gay Byrne and his wife Kathleen Watkins kicked off their golden anniversary celebrations at the premiere of Brian Friel's 'Aristocrats' at the Abbey Theatre.

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“On Wednesday we will celebrate 50 wonderful years together,” Byrne told the Irish Independent. “We will do something small and private with our family. No photographers, no press - just us. But tonight we want to see some top notch theatre so we are here.”

The couple tied the knot in the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Saggart in 1964.

“It was a special day,” Watkins said. “And our anniversary is a very special day. I'm a very patient woman and that's the secret.”

The couple joined a plethora of distinguished guests at the Abbey including President Michael D. Higgins, Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke, broadcaster Joe Duffy, actor Mark O'Halloran, musician Paul Brady and Ulick O'Connor.

Byrne recieved some criticism earlier in the week regarding his interview with Taoiseach Enda Kenny on RTE show 'The Meaning of Life'.

“I've heard people say they were soft questions but it wasn't a political interview,” Byrne explained.

“The programme is called 'The Meaning of Life'. It's about spirituality, religion and that sort of thing.

“We have done 45 programmes by now and if the audience don't understand what the show is about - too bad. Everyone is a critic these days - you can't please them all,” he added.

Having premiered on the Abbey stage 35 years ago, Friel's Chekhovian family drama returned to the National Theatre of Ireland last night.

'Aristocrats' tells the story of the once powerful O'Donnell family; a legal dynasty who have fallen out of the Supreme Court into the sausage making business.

Renowned theatre practitioner Patrick Mason is at the helm of the production having previously directed the Abbey's 1990 production of 'Dancing at Lughnasa' - which received both an Olivier and Tony Award.

Rory Nolan - who played the part of Ross O'Carroll-Kelly in Paul Howard's 'Breaking Dad' plays Willie Driver and joins actress Jane McGrath who appeared in RTE's popular drama 'Amber'.

Theatre stalwarts Cathy Belton, John Kavanagh, Tom Hickey and former 'Bachelor's Walk' actor Keith McErlean also appear in the production.

Fiach MacConghail, Director of the Abbey Theatre believes it is important to revisit 'Aristocrats' given Ireland's recent economic malaise and our “social and political uncertainty”.

“It is an opportune time to revive the play,” he told the Irish Independent. “Friel reminds us of our family ties and human need for myth making as we overcome the challenges of political and economic uncertainty.”

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