Monday 16 September 2019

'Who knows what I might have done if I stayed on?' - Kathleen Watkins ponders her professional path if she was allowed to continue work in the '60s

Kathleen Watkins and her husband Gay Byrne. Photo: David Conachy
Kathleen Watkins and her husband Gay Byrne. Photo: David Conachy
Sorcha O'Connor

Sorcha O'Connor

The wife of legendary 'Late, Late Show' host Gay Byrne, Kathleen Watkins, said she might have one day directed the flagship chatshow if it wasn't for the marriage bar.

When the pair wed in the 60s, by law Ms Watkins had to give up her job as a continuity announcer in the fledgling Teilifís Éireann, now RTÉ.

Speaking to the 'RTÉ Guide', she pondered what she might have done if the law had not dictated she end her career.

"Who knows what I might have done if I stayed on?" she said. "I could have ended up directing 'The Late Late Show'."

However, Ms Watkins said she enjoyed being able to have time for herself when husband Gay kept the shoulder to the wheel at the national broadcaster.

"I was the house manager and I enjoyed that. I was always up early and after Gay left, the day was mine to do as I wanted."

She revealed a life in the limelight never tickled her fancy. But if she had one regret in life, it was not training as a professional chef.

"I dabbled, doing bits of broadcasting and I also did the occasional gigs playing the harp at night-time.

"One time, [director] Tomás MacAnna invited me to be the princess in the Irish language Christmas pantomime at the Abbey. I was thrilled but after about the fourth night on stage, I knew showbusiness wasn't for me, I didn't have the bug."

As for Gay (84) - who is battling cancer - returning to work is not on the cards, according to his wife.

"People would love him to go back on radio but I'm with the person, the patient, day in, day out, and I know what's best for him," she said.

Irish Independent

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