THE sister-in-law of Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin had a lucky escape after she was struck on the head by a pane of glass while standing outside the Wexford Opera House.
Mary Howlin -- who is married to Mr Howlin's brother Ted -- was attending a dress rehearsal of 'L'Arlesiana' on Sunday when the building was evacuated during the second act after the fire alarm went off.
Theatre-goers assembled outside while stewards cleared the building and carried out safety checks.
Mrs Howlin, who recently retired as a bank official, was standing outside a residential house on the other side of the street when an upstairs window was opened and a pane of glass became dislodged, falling on her head.
An ambulance was called and she was taken to Wexford General Hospital where a piece of glass in her skull was removed.
She was discharged later that day and is taking heavy medication while she recovers at home.
"It's a small but deep wound and I'm on pain tablets and antibiotics so I'm very groggy. It was such an unfortunate and freakish thing," Mrs Howlin told the Irish Independent.
"I was just standing there and then all of a sudden I felt this bang on my head. I thought the sky had fallen in, I was very dazed."
"She was lucky that the glass was flat when it hit her," added her husband, Ted Howlin, who is a local councillor and former lord mayor of Wexford.
A spokesperson for the opera house confirmed the building was evacuated after somebody accidentally pressed one of the "emergency evacuation call points".
"There was somebody looking out of the window across the street to see what the commotion was. Part of the window came loose and fell on top of one of our patrons," he said.
The Wexford Festival Opera, to be launched by President Michael D Higgins this evening, runs until November 4.