Lives Lost to Covid-19: Ann Hyland embraced life

She wrote a children’s book, climbed the Great Wall of China, rode a camel in Morocco, jet-skied in Barbados

Ann Hyland 1948 - 2021

Ann Hyland embraced life. If one can do it all, she tried: rode a camel in Morocco, jet-skied in Barbados, climbed the Great Wall of China, "Amtraked" across America, flew a plane. She cried when she watched the annual fireworks at Tossa de Mar.

It was the life of an early airhostess in the glamour aviation era of the 1970s. Ann applied successfully for Aer Lingus and travelled the world. A wide-eyed 21-year-old with her heart set on the skies, her bubbly, outgoing personality made her a perfect fit.

Over the years she saw New York City, Chicago, Montreal, San Diego and much of Europe. But of all her discoveries, her most important was a handsome, tanned passenger instantly recognisable as a regular in Dublin's Switzer's café.


“At the time, rule number one of air-hostessing was ‘don’t give your phone number to passengers’,” recalled her daughter Lorna-Jane. “Rule number one was broken that day.”

Just six months later, as Ann got off a flight from Birmingham at Dublin airport, Bill Hyland was waiting in the car park on bended knee. "It's about time," Ann told him.

She met Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, but didn't tell him she was a Beatles girl ever since the day she went to see them at Dublin Airport

On April 4th, 1972, the pair married in front of friends and family at the Dublin Airport church. “She believed every word of her wedding vows and proved it over 49 happy years,” said Lorna-Jane.

Born in May, 1948 to Bill McGeown and Helen Chant, life began in a flat on Wicklow Street before the family moved to Churchtown and later to her grandfather's house on the Old Cabra Road. Eventually her father found their dream home in The Ward.

She went to school in Wesley College on St Stephen's Green. Although her parents had great hopes for her on the hockey field, they were not shared by Ann. Her positional choice was goalkeeper, largely because she didn't have to run anywhere. She would let the ball sail past her into the net before catching the bus home.

She had big green eyes, and jewellery to match. She wrote a children's book. She met Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, but didn't tell him she was a Beatles girl ever since the day she went to see them at Dublin Airport.

Years later, she would have her own family. In 1979 Aimée-Louise arrived, followed in 1982 by Lorna-Jane. They lived in Glasnevin until 2019. Her home was her pride and joy; the neighbours would say she hoovered the grass.

Ann and Bill eventually moved to an apartment on Percy Place where she revelled in city life. Just a year ago, her grandson Rafferty was born. She delighted in him; bounced him on her lap; pushed him along the Grand Canal and together they discovered the ducks and swings at Ranelagh Park.

In early January this year, both Ann and Bill tested positive for Covid-19. Ann was admitted to St Vincent’s University Hospital later that month. She died peacefully in the arms of her husband and daughters on February 16th, 2021.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times