Recalling the Little Saint of Smyllum

The cover of Allan Worthy's new book on an extraordinary Smyllum orphan
The cover of Allan Worthy's new book on an extraordinary Smyllum orphan

Very elderly Lanark folk are being asked to search their memories to recall the time when a little girl who may well one day be canonized a saint lived here among us.

That extraordinary lass was Kathleen Kilbane and her 13-year-long life ended seventy years ago.

Far from being forgotten, what is the second major book on her short life has been published.

The publication of ‘The Kathleen Kilbane Story’ in the wake of best-selling biography `No More Tears in My Eyes’ is timely, given all the recent bad publicity about Lanark’s Smyllum Orphanage; she was actually happy during her time there. She was born in Perth in 1933, orphaned in 1937 and then was placed in Smyllum Orphanage until 1945.

She was then found to have TB and it was the way she faced her final 15 months, ultimately in the isolated sanatorium in Ballinrobe, Ireland, that has led to her being dubbed ‘The Little Saint’.

Explained the author of the new book, Allan Worthy: “Kathleen’s final months spent in Ballinrobe were recorded and published in Ireland as ‘No More Tears in My Eyes’. This has proved to be a perennially popular and inspiring account of faith.

“The new book is the first cradle-to-grave biography of Kathleen which covers her years in Scotland.

“The book contains research on Kathleen’s Perth days and also, working with the Daughters of Charity archivist in London and Father Jim Thompson of St Mary’s, Lanark, I have gathered information on Kathleen’s Lanark days. I am looking to do more research on Kathleen’s years in Scotland.

“I am looking to try and contact anyone who attended or worked at Smyllum during the years between 1937 and 1945 who may have memories of Kathleen they might like to share. Kathleen’s time at Smyllum appear a happy one and two nuns from there visited Kathleen in her final days.“

He can be contacted via allan1967@btinternet.com.