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I recall a time, some ten or more years ago, during one of my brothers stays, when my daughter Kathryn made an unexpected visit. She arrived and surprised her Uncle's and after our evening meal the old song books came out. I love Kathryn's voice and, although she hates me saying it, she sings beautifully. In those days she could match Dolly Parton with her version of, 'I will always love you,' and I recall her singing that song to her three uncle's. Soon all of us were singing and at the end of one song her Uncle Bob said softly to his neice, "You are a very beautiful young woman." He said it as if he had only that second realised it, but it was a nice thing to say. He was right, for my daughter is truly beautiful.
Later that evening after saying goodnight we left the ladies and went down to the Cwmann Taverne. You will not be surprised when I say that much ale flowed. Len suggested that on our return home we should all sing a song at Kathryn's bedroom door, like Christmas Carol singers do. Everyone agreed and her Uncles all tried to think of a song which featured her name in it but they failed. Someone suggested they could sing the lovely old Irish song, 'I'll take you home again Kathleen,' but with the Kathleen substituted with Kathryn. This was agreed and to my, and the pub landlords surprise, my brothers started to practice it. They say that practise makes perfect and a few whiskies and several renditions of the song later they were ready to go. On the walk up the hill to my home they practised it some more and then we were outside Kathryn's bedroom door and the melodic voices of the Tuffs Families Singers began to sing ......
I'll take you home again, Kathryn
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.
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, Kathryn
To where your heart will feel no pain
And when the fields are fresh and green
I'll take you to your home again!
Now I'm not saying we sang the song perfectly, but we got close. It wasn't long before we could hear an awake Kathryn laughing, so we carried on singing on that landing outside her bedroom door. Soon we could hear Jenny's melodic voice coming from the direction of our bedroom as she joined in the merriment. Then Kathryn's lovely voice could also be heard as six voices of the family Tuffs sang as one..
I have always loved that song and I loved it even more after that wonderful evening. I can recall with pleasure hearing my brother in law Bill singing it at the Bricklayers Arms, many years ago . I've heard Johnny Cash sing a grand version, and both Kathryn and I have heard Daniel O'Donnell sing it at his shows. But whenever Kathryn hears it in the years to come, I bet she'll think of the version sang to her outside her bedroom door by three three slightly inebriated men. Her Uncles, Len, Bob and Gordon!