Tribute paid to Catriona Paterson
CATRIONA Mary Paterson, well known and much loved in both her native Greenock and her ancestral home of Jura, died peacefully in the early hours of New Year’s Day.
Catriona was the youngest and last surviving daughter of Greenock master mariner George Paterson and Dhiurach Mary Black or Shaw. She was born and lived her life in Greenock, following her mother and sisters into teaching which saw her reach assistant head teacher at Greenock High School.
As well as teaching maths, when ‘choice activities’ came round in the summer term each year she opted to teach boys to cook, with great success. Even years after her retirement, it was difficult to walk along the esplanade in Greenock without bumping into a former pupil with, usually, fond memories of Miss Paterson.
Catriona and her sisters maintained close ties with Jura, spending each summer with their mother and joined by their father when his puffer Narwhal had cargo for the islands. Although he was from Greenock, he would have felt at home in the cottage at Caigenhouses, a hamlet that produced no fewer than four master mariners.
Catriona continued to visit Jura until quite recently and to take an active part in island life. As well as her sporting achievements in the regatta, where she won a rowing cup outright with Archie Black, and took her turn as commodore, she competed (walking) in the inaugural 10K and received a commemorative walking stick as the oldest competitor.
Drawing from her mother’s Jura roots, Catriona was a lifelong Gaelic learner and singer. She sang in Greenock Gaelic Choir for most of her life, sometimes as a soloist, and was elated when she gained the coveted Green Card for proficiency for the competitions at the annual Mòd, where she and her sister Elsie competed in duet and quartet classes as well as with the choir.
The love of the language and music never left her and even at the end of her life she was able to quote verses from memory and comment on the differences in pronunciation between the islands.
Catriona belonged to the Glasgow Jura Association and always enjoyed their annual gathering, where a dish sometimes on offer was salt herring, a staple food in earlier times on the island. She had a deep respect for her island ancestors, whose lives were hard. She hated waste and was herself frugal. Disapproving of time wasted, she usually knitted while watching TV.
A keen member of the National Trust for Scotland, Catriona spent a memorable summer on St Kilda with her sister Elsie helping to restore some of the buildings, including the church. Their group included a well-known Gaelic singer, so after work there were great ceilidhs.
In her retirement, Catriona was an active supporter of good causes, delivering meals on wheels, hospital driving and baking for a weekly café in aid of the Ardgowan Hospice.
Her death brings to an end the generation of Paterson girls in Jura, but their love of the island has been passed down to the next generation, who hope to continue the connection.
Catriona Paterson, second row fourth from left, in Greenock Gaelic Choir.
The three Paterson sisters, left to right, Flora, Catriona and Elsie, on the pier at Jura in the 1930s.