Development & Alumni Relations Office 

 

Patricia (Pat) Hill, BEd 1975, BTh 1997 (died 18 May 2020, aged 89)

 

Obituary can be found online at https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/people/an-appreciation-pat-hill-1.4440980

 

Not many people in Ireland have shaken hands with both the Pope and Queen Elizabeth, as Patricia Hill did.

 

Patricia Bridget Hill (nee Pat McCormick) died on 18 May 2020 aged 89 in Belfast. Her family were at her bedside when she died. For the past two years Pat suffered from dementia. Her condition deteriorated badly following a fall and breaking her hip bone in 2019. She never got back to Gransha which had been her home for nearly 66 years.

 

In 1990 Pat met Queen Elizabeth II when she received a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in Buckingham Palace for services to education. Working at St Catherine's Primary School on the Falls Road in Belfast, Pat got the young people in the school to interview their parents and grandparents and to build up an archive of memories from the Falls Road.

 

But her work after she retired in 1994 is also significant. She began a degree in theology at Queen's University, Belfast, while lobbying tirelessly that pastoral councils should be set up to give the laity a say in the running of the Catholic church in Ireland. Along with a delegation from Belfast she met and shook hands with Pope John Paul II.

 

Pat McCormick was born in 1930, the eldest of five children of Hilary and Kathleen McCormick. Hilary from Donegall Pass in Belfast met Kathleen who was brought up in Rathmines on holiday in Bundoran. They got married in 1929 and settled in Belfast.

 

Pat had two sisters who died in infancy: Nora and Ursula. Ken her brother died from cancer in 2009. Her sister Sheila still lives in Belfast.

 

Pat went to St Vincent's Primary School and St Dominic's Girls Grammar School, both on the Falls Road. She excelled academically and was on the school hockey team.

 

Pat joined the civil service and was posted to Morecambe in Lancashire.

 

On a return visit she went to the Orpheus Ballroom in the city centre where she met Paddy Hill. They were married in 1954.

 

As was the practice at the time, women who married were forced to leave the civil service.

 

Pat had five children, but once Fiona, the youngest, started school Pat also started school. She began with basket weaving but soon moved on to O Levels and A Levels. Pat continued her studies at St Mary's teacher training college in Belfast, graduating in 1974. She immediately got a job at St Catherine's Primary School on the Falls Road where she taught until she retired in 1994. Pat received an MBE in 1991, aged 61, for work in education. She had asked her children at school to carry out research by asking their mummies and grannies about women working in the mills on the Falls Road in Belfast.

 

Pat's life centred around children. In her last year in Our Lady's Nursing Home in Belfast she constantly referred to looking after the children. Was this us, her pupils, her grandchildren, her great grandchildren? Was this her sisters Nora and Ursula? Pat was very aware of poverty in the world.

 

Her favourite charity was Trócaire. Over half the images that cover the walls in Gransha depict scenes of poverty with many from the Famine and modern day Ireland. She wrote the book, The History of St Teresa's Church, and published it herself.

 

For Pat, family life centred around food and the kitchen table. She also loved her summer holidays, and loved music, something she shared with Paddy. They were both founding members of the church choir in 1983.

 

Pat is survived by her sister Sheila, her children Ursula, David, Declan, Paul and Fiona, her 13 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.

 

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