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I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen

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artistic close-up photograph of violin, fiddle photo

Fiddle

Aaron Graubart / Getty Images

History and Background:

"I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen" is well-known for being one of the most popular songs in the traditional Irish music ballad repertoire, but as it turns out, the song was not originally Irish. It was, in fact, written in 1875 by one Thomas Paine Westendorf, an American of German descent, for his wife, Jenny. The song was written as a "response" to (and thus in a similar style as) the song "Barney, Take Me Home Again," a popular song of the era. Despite its origins, Westendorf struck a romantic chord in the hearts of some Irish music-lovers with his use of the popular Irish feminine name "Kathleen" as well as his use of poetic Irish-ish (for lack of a better term) language, all describing the wistful thoughts of home shared by so many immigrants, and the song quickly entered the repertoire of Irish folksingers on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as plenty of pop singers, including Elvis Presley. Nowadays, it's a Public Domain folksong, and it's so rare that we know the whole backstory of these songs, so it's worth remembering them when we can.

Lyrics:

I'll take you home again Kathleen across the ocean wild and wide
To where your heart has ever been since first you were my bonny bride
The roses all have left your cheek, I've watched them fade away and die
Your voice is sad when e'er you speak and tears bedim your loving eyes.

And I will take you back, Kathleen, to where your heart will feel no pain
And when the fields are fresh and green, I will take you to your home Kathleen.

I know you love me, Kathleen dear, your heart was ever fond and true
I always fear when you are near, that life holds nothing dear but you
The smiles that once you gave to me, I scarcely ever see them now
Though many, many times I see, a darkening shadow on your brow.

And I will take you back, Kathleen, to where your heart will feel no pain
And when the fields are fresh and green, I will take you to your home Kathleen.

To that dear home beyond the sea, my Kathleen shall again return
And when thy old friends welcome thee, thy loving heart will cease to yearn
Where laughs the little silver stream, beside your mother's humble cot
And brighter rays of sunshine gleam, there all your grief will be forgot.

And I will take you back, Kathleen, to where your heart will feel no pain
And when the fields are fresh and green, I will take you to your home Kathleen.

Notable Recorded Versions


(To sample an MP3 and be given an option to purchase it, click on the name of the song.)

Daniel O'Donnell - "I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen"
Cavan O'Connor - "I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen"
Bing Crosby - "I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen"
Elvis Presley - "I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen"
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