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Catherine MacLeod was born on Berneray in 1795, the daughter of crofter Donald MacLeod and Helen MacAskill. From the 1850s she was living as a cottar in a newly built house at Pol an Oir, together with young Mary Ann MacAskill who, although variously described as her daughter or niece, was probably her cousin (through Catherine's maternal grandfather). By 1871 Catherine and Mary Ann were keeping a shop, and, more interestingly, distilling their own whisky.
Place Names of Berneray tells of a saying in Berneray concerning her:
'Catriona Bheag na cuibhle a'ridhleadh a'bharaille'; Wee Catherine of the spinning wheel is rolling the barrel.
This expression had some significance because Catherine and her daughter, Mairi Anna, were running a shebeen at their home.
The house and business at Pol an Oir passed to Mary Ann following Catherine’s death in 1877.