I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen
(Sure-and-it's a "quasi-Irish" song!)
(Who would even care, but it's a fact of musical life.) Perhaps it's the name, Kathleen, or surely, the line: "across the ocean, far and wide." And then there's the term, "bonnie bride." (But "bonnie" brings visions of kilts and memories of another British Isle.)
Let's not fret about it! The sentiments are there and properly nostalgic. Nevertheless, the facts relating to the song's origin are both interesting and tender.
It seems that the writer of the song was an Indiana schoolteacher, Thomas P. Westendorf. The year was 1876. It was assumed for a long time that the song was inspired by his wife's grave illness, following the death of their son. Subsequently, the real reason was revealed to be that he had been acutely lonely because of the absence of his wife (who was visiting relatives in Ogdensburg, N.Y.) He was a musical fellow and was inspired by a currently popular song of the time, Barney, Take Me Home Again" by Arthur W. French and George W. Brown. (A little borrowing, here and there, is not uncommon in songwriting!)
A local performer introduced the song at the Plainville, Indiana Town Hall in 1876.
Here are the lyrics: (first verse only)
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 bonnie bride.
The roses all have left your cheek.