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Catherine, known as Kate or Kitty, was born in 1873, the daughter of fisherman Donald MacKay and Ann Morrison of 13 Obbe. In 1897 she married Adam MacKay of Baile, Berneray, which is where they made their home. Together they had four children before her husband died when his boat was overwhelmed during a gale in October 1906. Two years later, she left Berneray with her children, returning to Leverburgh.