Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen

I was visiting Blanche several days ago, and the conversation turned to popular songs of the late nineteenth century, many of which were very sad. She remembered her father, Stacey Howard (1885-1968) singing one of his favorites, I'll Take you Home Again, Kathleen, written in 1875 by Thomas P. Westendorf. Although Westendorf was an American songwriter, the song quickly became thought of as a beloved Irish ballad.

Without any prompting Blanche recited the words for me:

I'll take you home again, Kathleen
Across the ocean wild and wide
To where your heart has ever been
Since you were first my bonnie 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.
Oh! I will take you back, Kathleen
To where your heart will feel no pain
And when the fields are fresh and green
I'll take you to your home again!

I know you love me, Kathleen, dear
Your heart was ever fond and true.
I always feel 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 dark'ning shadow on your brow.

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 brightest rays of sunshine gleam
There all your grief will be forgot.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the unique "Ocracoke Greeting." You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news022113.htm


  1. Vickie Pavlik6:54 AM

    When did Blanche return to Ocracoke?

    1. Blanche, of course, was born and raised on Ocracoke. She moved to her husband's town in her late 30s after she married. After Guthrie died in 2001 Blanche moved back home to Ocracoke.

  2. Bill Walker8:07 AM

    Last October the Ocrafolk Music Class visited Blanche. She told us many of the old songs were sad. One in particular, IN THE BAGGAGE CAR AHEAD, may be the saddest I ever heard. (Looked it up on internet)

  3. Anonymous10:20 AM

    As a child, when I would visit my BFF her mother would sing a few lines of the song to me . well yes, Mrs Shea had a lovely voice, perhaps she continued with an entire stanza as I ran off down the hall. However, in retrospect I should have politely stood there drinking up the attention in all my chubbiness but alas I did not encourage her but I do remember the tune .

  4. Anonymous10:43 AM

    Sniff sniff SueM