Kathleen Watkins plays the harp in the Abbey Christmas Panto

Kathleen Watkins, well-known harpist and wife of broadcaster Gay Byrne, played Bainrion an tSneachta in the Abbey Theatre’s 1959 Christmas Pantomime, Gráinne Na Long by Eoghan O Tuairisc.

In this pantomime, Don Juan, son of the King of Spain sets out to seek An Chuillionn, a Princess of the Lord of Snow. Christopher Columbus is not willing to make the voyage with him and he appeals to Gráinne Ní Mhaille the Irish woman-pirate who agrees to transport him to the Far North. Through treachery, Gráinne is captured by the English, confronts Queen Elizabeth and is imprisoned in the Tower of London whence she is rescued by Don Juan. Ultimately, of course, Don Juan, marries his Northern Princess.

Panto plot-lines were known to go on many tangents; during this panto Julius Caesar is seen arranging to impose the Roman type and Roman script on readers and writers of Irish.

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