TRIBUTES have been paid to a loving family man and Barrhead campaigner who has passed away suddenly at the age of 71.

Pat Conroy died of a heart attack on April 15 but his relatives spread across the globe have been remembering the "good man" they knew.

Born on March 7, 1949 in Capard, Clonaslee, Co Laois, Ireland, Pat was the eldest child of Thomas and Elizabeth, who died when Pat was only four. Pat and his brother Jack were sent to stay with his aunt and uncle and their nine children, but his sister Maureen was given to another family.

The family of 13 were raised in a two-bedroom Irish cottage with Paddy - as he was then called - and Jack sleeping on the "good" Irish settle bed in the kitchen. They grew up with the four-mile walks to school and the Slieve Bloom Mountains as their playground. He would often visit later in life, full of information about his family roots and the homeland he loved.

Brother Jack told the Barrhead News: "A lasting memory is how one day he came home with a bloody nose. Apparently someone had said something not nice about me and he took exception. He never did say what it was.

"Paddy and I arrived in Glasgow in 1964 on the cattle boat like fish out of water. We moved into the Gorbals but Paddy, to his credit, soon found his feet and his life in Scotland took off."

Pat got a job fixing speedometers until he took a welder's apprenticeship in Govan, and attended night classes at Langside College and Stow College to be an engineering draftsman.

His career, which he loved, took him around the globe, from Baghdad to Aberdeen.

Pat married Christina Anne Hutchinson on April 29, 1972.

Son Ciaron said he remembered he and sister Clare helping in an SNP campaign office in Cathcart in 1979 folding and packing leaflets, with Pat putting a party sticker high on a lamp poll outside the chippy so nobody could reach it.

Ciaron said: "I asked, 'Why bother? We are going to lose.' He said, 'It's the start.'"

At an SNP gathering in 1982, Pat met a young Nicola Sturgeon while the family was living in Langside.

They spent much many years fixing up their then home before moving to Brenfield Road, Cathcart, initially sitting on the floor eating fish suppers with their fingers as the knives and forks went missing.

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After moving to Barrhead in 2000, Pat met Lilias in 2002. Her son Christopher Houston took her to a dance in Paisley and he insisted she ask the "lovely Irish man who was always smiling" to dance.

They were married on July 7, 2011 and joined Clare and Ciaron from Pat's first marriage, to Lilias's children, Laura and Christopher. Together, those families have four grandchildren remembering Pat fondly.

In 2015, Pat gave up his career and supported Lilias in her silk painting business. They loved to travel, taking in China, Alaska, Newfoundland, Seattle, Paris, Barcelona, Gerona, Frankfurt, Florence, Prague, New York, and of course Ireland.

He loved gardening, walking in the hills, researching his ancestry, Irish music and politics.

East Renfrewshire MP Kirsten Oswald led tributes to his campaigning, calling him "a wholly decent and very cheerful man, for whom nothing was ever a trouble."

She added: "He was a great activist, and was delighted to join in the celebrations just a few months ago, when the team celebrated their hard work in this area.

"We all thought a great deal of Pat, and we will miss him."

Lilias told the Barrhead News: "He was the most kind caring and generous man who had time for everyone and everything.

"With his kind face and happy smile he touched everyone."

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Stepson Christopher said he thanked staff at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital for looking after Pat. He was able to speak to Pat the morning before died.

Christopher, who lives in Toronto, said: "I told him I was proud of him and happy that he married my mum, that I hoped to see him in a few weeks, but that I realised I may not. And that he was a good man.

"He was a good man. And now he is gone. And it's brutally sad. Hug your loved ones. And be kind to each other."

Pat's small funeral will be on April 27 at St Conval's Cemetery in Barrhead. The hearse will leave his home in St Mary's Crescent at 10.10am and neighbours will be able to pay their respects, appropriately spaced out, from the roadside.