I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen

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"I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen"
Written 1875
Songwriter(s) Thomas P. Westendorf

"I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen" is a popular song written by Thomas P. Westendorf in 1875. In spite of its German-American origins, it is widely mistaken to be an Irish ballad. Westendorf, then teaching at the reform school known as the Indiana House of Refuge for Juvenile Offenders in Hendricks County, Indiana, wrote it – apparently – for his wife (who was, however, named Jennie). It's in the form of an "answer" to a popular ballad of the time, "Barney, Take Me Home Again," composed by Westendorf’s close friend, George W. Brown, writing under the nom de plume of George W. Persley.[1][2]

Recorded versions[edit]

  • Tenor and Chorus with Orchestra, Walter Van Brunt. Edison thick 78, 1914, Disc 80160-R. Flip Side "On The Banks of the Brandywine".
  • Frank Connors (released by Varsity Records) as catalog number 519, with the flip side "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling"[3])
  • Scottish tenor Robert Wilson released a version in the late 1940s.
  • Bing Crosby and John Scott Trotter's Orchestra (recorded July 17, 1945, released by Decca Records as catalog numbers 18721B[4] and 28261,[5] both with the flip side "The Bells of St. Mary's";[4][5] also as catalog number 23789B with the flip side "Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral"[6])
  • Merv Griffin (released by RCA Victor Records as catalog number 20-4749, with the flip side "Wild Colonial Boy"[7])
  • Irish tenor Josef Locke recorded a version around the late 1940s.
  • British novelty pop band Lieutenant Pigeon (released by Decca Records in 1974 as Decca F13486), with the B-side "Big Butch Baby", reached #3 in Australia.[8]
  • Danny Malone (recorded November 27, 1934, released by Decca Records as catalog number 12052A, with the flip side "All That I Want Is in Ireland"[9])
  • Henry Moeller (released by Gennett Records as catalog number 10069, with the flip side "Sing Me To Sleep"[10])
  • Oscar Seagle (recorded September 1915, released by Columbia Records as catalog number A-5718, with the flip side "The Bloom Is on the Rye"[11])
  • Vaughan Quartet (released by Vaughan Records as catalog number 725, with the flip side "When Honey Sings an Old Time Song"[12])
  • Lew White (released by Victor Records as catalog number 27467, with the flip side "On the Wings of Song"[13])
  • Clarence Whitehill (recorded July 30, 1914, released by Victor Records as catalog number 74425 (a single-sided record);[14] also as catalog number 1275, with the flip side "In the Gloaming"[15])
  • Victor Young and his Orchestra (released by Decca Records as catalog number 28194, with the flip side "My Mother"[5])
  • Elvis Presley released a version (with overdubbed accompaniment) of him singing to his own piano-playing on the 1973 self-titled album called Elvis on RCA Records, better known as The Fool album. He can be seen rehearsing the song by himself in the 1981 documentary This Is Elvis as taken from the footage for the 1970 film That's the Way It Is. He can also be heard performing the same song while in the Army while stationed in Germany in the so-called "Bad Neuheim Medley" of the 1997 RCA CD boxset Platinum : A Life In Music.
  • Michael Crawford performed the song for his album In Concert in 1998, and also in his concert tour.
  • Mitch MillerFavorite Irish Folk Songs – Originally released 1959 Sony BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT – USSM10020418
  • Ken Curtis and The Sons of the Pioneers – Featured in Rio Grande, the last of John Wayne's "Cavalry Trilogy" classic western movies, as "The Regimental Singers" singing to Wayne and Maureen O'Hara.
  • Slim Whitman recorded a version in 1957, on Imperial 8310, also issued in the UK on London HLP 8403.
  • In the Star Trek episode, "The Naked Time" (first aired Sep. 29, 1966), the crew of the Enterprise is affected by a substance, unknowingly picked from an uninhabited frozen world about to break up, that brings repressed feelings and behavior to the surface. One crewman, Kevin Thomas Riley, who fancies himself a descendant of Irish kings, locks himself in Engineering and shuts the engines off, causing the ship to fall out of orbit toward the disintegrating planet. While the behavior-altering disease spreads through the ship, and the ship continues to fall toward the planet, Riley adds to the stress by repeatedly singing, "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen" in a half-drunken way through speakers he has locked open throughout the ship.
  • On March 31, 1971 Johnny Cash sang a version of this song on the 56th episode of his television show The Johnny Cash Show (TV series).
  • Daniel O'Donnell recorded the song, where it was released on the album, "Irish Collection", in 1997.
  • On 30 January 2011 Jon Boden released a version as part of his A Folk Song A Day project.[16]


  1. ^ Richard S. Hill, "Getting Kathleen Home Again" in Notes [of the Music Library Association] Vol. 5, No. 3 (Jun., 1948), pp. 338–353
  2. ^ "Columnist Debunks Plainfield's Connection to a Famous Song" by Michael Lambert (November 2011)
  3. ^ Varsity Records of the Wright Record Co. in the 100 to 581 series
  4. ^ a b US Decca Records in the 18500 to 18923 series
  5. ^ a b c US Decca Records in the 28000 to 28499 series
  6. ^ US Decca Records in the 23500 to 23999 series
  7. ^ RCA Victor Records in the 20-4500 to 20-4999 series
  8. ^ Lieutenant Pigeon & Staveley Makepeace official website
  9. ^ US Decca Records in the 12000 to 12283 series
  10. ^ Gennett Records in the 10000 to 10093 series
  11. ^ Columbia Records in the 5500 to 5999 series
  12. ^ Vaughan Records discography
  13. ^ Victor Records in the 27200 to 27499 series
  14. ^ Victor Red Seal Records in the 74000 to 74813 series
  15. ^ Victor Red Seal Records in the 1000 to 1499 series
  16. ^ A Folk Song A Day, 30 January 2011, "I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen"

External links[edit]