Aunt JoAnn - Brendan Hughes, November 7, 2015

JoAnn Hughes has joined
a glorious circle of Irish hags.

JoAnn’s mother was Anna Elizabeth Bean
born in Dorchester in 1902.

JoAnn’s mother’s mother
was Mary Clifford
born in Ireland in 1873.

JoAnn’s mother’s mother’s mother
was Katherine Sweeney,
born in Killeentierna in 1853.

JoAnn’s father’s mother
was Margaret Bambrick
born on Prince Edward Island
(which her father called “Poverty Every Inch”)
in 1872.

JoAnn’s father’s father’s mother
was Margaret Flynn,
born in Tipperary Ireland in 1827.

And JoAnn’s father’s father’s father’s mother
was Johanna Barnes,
born in Wexford Ireland in 1796.

Anna Bean,
Mary Clifford,
Katherine Sweeney,
Margaret Bambrick,
Margaret Flynn,
and Johanna Barnes
gather now tonight
at the hag rock,
opening their circle
to welcome JoAnn Hughes,
where the clouds and the surf and the rock
can all become in an instant the same color
and blend despite their densities
into one continuous whole
just as you stand and witness them.

A solid color,
an impossibly earthen
that is half inside of you
that is impossible to describe
with meager English words
that only a painting
by JoAnn Hughes herself
could hope to truly capture.

Rose Kennedy had a saying.

“What’s the use of being Irish
if the world doesn’t break your heart.”


JoAnn’s rediscovery of her very Irishness
brought her to the Hag of Beara
brought her to a circle and a nation
of hags with broken hearts
who moved heaven and earth and sea
to synthesize the joy and the pain
of the act of living.

JoAnn painted. She spoke. She read.
She told the truth.

She reclaimed for the simple word “hag”
the forgotten power laying deep within it.

And now she has joined
A glorious circle of Irish hags
at rock and ocean and sky

Anna, Mary, Katherine, Margaret, Margaret, Johanna – JoAnn