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Irish Blessing

The land of Saints and Scholars has produced a wide range of Irish blessings and prayers, probably one for every event or milestone in life. 

Regardless of whether you are looking for some fitting words to celebrate a joyous celebration, or a sad occasion, searching for an Irish blessing for luck or wondering how to write an Irish blessing, you will find inspiration for an appropriate and authentic Irish blessing that will suit the circumstance here.

 

What are Irish Blessings?

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An Irish blessing is a short phrase, poem or sometimes prayer that wishes good fortune upon those who receive the blessing. Some, but not all, include some Irish wit and humor.

One common theme found in many traditional Irish blessings is that of protection or keeping one safe. In some blessings, religious references to God’s protection and help are included, while other Irish blessing poems focus more on the bonds of friendship and natural imagery. The theme of good luck in Irish blessings also reoccurs frequently.

The wit in Irish blessings might take some people by surprise, but this kind of joking is a kind of an art form in Ireland and the well-meaning intentions behind it are fully understood. So don’t be caught off guard by some of the more humorous Irish blessings!

 

History of the Irish Blessings

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While many of the Irish blessings have religious references, the act of blessing is considerably older than Christianity in Ireland. 

Many belief systems around the world place great significance on wishing well or harm upon someone. 

In ancient Ireland, significant power and influence were attributed to the Celtic Gods and Goddesses, as well as the high ranking druids by the Celts. If these deities, or all powerful druids were in your favor, then luck would be upon you and your Celtic blessings would be plentiful. 

When Christianity arrived in Ireland around the 5th century, the early Christain Church built upon many of the existing aspects of Celtic culture. 

For example, churches were founded on Celtic sacred sites (often connected with the oak trees which held particular significance for the Celts).   

Some Celtic deities, such as the Irish Goddess Brigid, (the goddess of healing) is likely to have been integrated into the Christian teachings as Saint Brigid

Although Saint Patrick is credited with creating several blessings, he probably shouldn’t receive all the praise, as it is quite plausible that the old Irish blessings predate Christianity in Ireland.

 

What is the most famous Irish blessing?

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The Irish Prayer is probably the most well-known of all Irish blessings. Depending on the circumstances and the intention of the blessing, it can either be used as a poem, or be recited as an Irish prayer.

Due to its widespread popularity, it is known by many different names including: 

  • An Irish Prayer
  • The Irish Blessing
  • May the Road Rise up to Meet you
  • Irish Prayer May the Road Rise to Meet You
  • Irish Blessing Prayer May the Road
  • The Irish Travel Prayer
  • The Irish Travel Blessing
  • The Irish Catholic Blessing
  • May the Road Rise to Meet You Poem
  • May the Road Irish Blessing

 

 

Traditional Irish Blessing – The Irish Prayer

The Irish blessing prayer text is as follows: 

May the road rise to meet you

May the wind be at your back

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

The rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, 

May God hold you in the palm of His hand

The enduring popularity through the generations of this blessing is connected with the simple, yet meaningful imagery and symbolism conjured up by the words. 

It can be seen as an Irish prayer for strength on a journey, and may the wind be always at your back to help you along the way. Additionally, it can be seen as an Irish prayer for protection.

 

Where did the Irish Blessing come from?

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While the exact origins of this blessing are unknown, it is thought to have been first written as an Irish Gaelic blessing and only later translated into English. (It has even provided inspiration for the Irish Blessing Prayer song as you will read below.)

This blessing is mostly known by its English translation, although this differs slightly in the meaning from the original Irish version. For example, one of the main mistranslations is Go n-éirí an bóthar leat, which literally translates as “May the road rise with you”. This can best be interpreted as “May you prosper along your journey”.

The Irish Blessing in Gaelic or Irish is as follows:

Go n-éirí an bóthar leat 

Go raibh an ghaoth go brách ag do chúl 

Go lonraí an ghrian go te ar d’aghaidh 

Go dtite an bháisteach go mín ar do pháirceanna 

Agus go mbuailimid le chéile arís, 

Go gcoinní Dia i mbos A láimhe thú.  

For some tips about the pronunciation, you can look at this video

An Irish Blessing Song

The Irish musician and composer, Phil Coulter composed An Irish Blessing song for his album Healing Angel (1999). In the song, An Irish Blessing lyrics are narrated by Roma Downey and the background vocals are sung by Aoife Ní Fhearriagh. It is quite a unique Irish prayer song and worth a listen to if you enjoy the blessing.

For more information about the Irish Blessing May the Road Rise to Meet You, read here. 

Saint Patrick’s Breastplate 

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Saint Patrick’s Breastplate or Saint Patrick’s Prayer is an old Irish blessing or prayer dating back to about the 11th century that was translated from Irish and is now usually performed as a hymn. The most well-like verse is usually the second last which is as follows: 

 

Christ with me,

Christ before me,

Christ behind me,

Christ in me,

Christ beneath me,

Christ above me,

Christ on my right,

Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down,

Christ when I sit down,

Christ when I arise,

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.

 

Irish Blessing Quotes for All Occasions

When you want to make your words stand out, then the addition of the right Irish blessing can really help achieve this aim. 

The Irish prayers and blessings below will help you find:

  • the perfect Irish wedding toast
  • a memorable greeting for a birthday card
  • Irish luck sayings
  • sympathetic words of condolence 
  • useful inspiration for Christmas and New Year cards. 

 

Irish blessings wedding (or Irish Blessing Love Theme)

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Wedding blessings and speeches are known the world over and in Ireland, this is no different!

The type of blessing Irish people say at weddings can be a wish for a happy and healthy future, be an Irish blessing for love or one connected with their faith. 

Here are a variety of Irish blessing wedding ideas that can easily be added to a wedding speech or Irish wedding toast to mark the happiest day for the lucky couple.

 

May your troubles be less

And your blessings be more.

And nothing but happiness

Come through your door.

 

May joy and peace surround you both,

contentment latch your door,

and happiness be with you now,

and God bless you evermore.

 

May God be with you and bless you,

May you see your children’s children,

May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings.

May you know nothing but happiness

From this day forward.

 

And one final Irish wedding blessing: 

May your joys be as bright as the morning,

and your sorrows merely be shadows

that fade in the sunlight of love.

 

Irish Blessings for Birthdays 

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If you are looking for a thoughtful and meaningful message for a birthday card or gift, why not add a few Irish birthday wishes for a good, healthy year and a long, happy life. You could even write happy birthday in Irish! Some suitable Irish quotes and Irish sayings about life and birthdays are as follows: 

May you live as long as you want,

And never want as long as you live

 

May you live to be a hundred years,

with one extra year to repent.

 

May the doctor never earn a pound out of you.

May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks,

May your heart be as light as a song,

May each day bring you bright, happy hours,

That stay with you all the year long.

 

God bless you now and always with the gift of Irish cheer. 

God give to you a happy heart and keep you through the year. 

 

May the blessed sunlight shine on you

and warm your heart

till it glows like a great peat fire.

 

Irish Baby Blessing

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Here are some suggestions for celebratory baby blessings and Irish sayings about family expansion! 

 

Lucky stars above you

Sunshine on your way

Many friends to love you

Joy in work and play

Laughter to outweigh each care

In your heart a song

And gladness waiting everywhere 

All your whole life long

 

For each petal on the shamrock

This brings a wish your way

Good health, good luck, and happiness

For today and every day.

 

May strong arms hold you

Caring hearts tend you

And may love await you at every step

 

May God grant you always a sunbeam to warm you,

a moonbeam to charm you,

a sheltering Angel so nothing can harm you.

Laughter to cheer you,

faithful friends near you

And whenever you pray,

Heaven to hear you.

 

Irish Blessings for Death and a Longevity

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You will find some thoughtful and unique Irish sayings and blessings about life and death below. 

 

May you live as long as you want,

but never want as long as you live.

 

May the good Lord take a liking to you,

but not too soon.

 

May God grant you many years to live,

For sure He must be knowing

The earth has angels all too few

And heaven is overflowing. 

 

May you live to comb the hair of your children’s children. 

 

An old Irish recipe longevity:

Leave the table hungry.

Leave the bed sleepy.

Leave the bar thirsty.

 

Humor can be added to most circumstances in Ireland – even an Irish blessing for death!

 

May your coffin be made of finest wood

from a 100-year-old tree,

that I’ll go plant tomorrow!

 

Irish Blessings for Funerals (or Irish Blessing Death Theme)

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For those with a connection to Ireland and Irish heritage, the inclusion of an Irish prayer for the dead to a condolence card or as a kind word when someone dies can be a moving tribute and a beautiful parting gift. 

Finding an appropriate Irish funeral blessing can be a bit challenging at times. Hopefully you will find an Irish blessing funeral quote here to suit your needs.

 

Until we meet again,

may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

 

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anam

(May their souls be on God’s right hand)

 

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal,

Love leaves a memory no one can steal.

 

Irish Blessings for Christmas

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May peace and plenty be the first 

to lift the latch on your door, 

And happiness be guided to your home, 

By the candle of Christmas

 

May you always have walls for the winds,

a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,

laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,

and all your heart might desire.

 

Irish New Year Blessings 

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What better way to start the New Year than with some choice Irish words to get the year off to a good start!

 

May the best day of your past be the worst day of your future.

 

Always remember to forget

The troubles that pass away

But never forget to remember

The blessings that come each day.

 

May the face of every good news

And the back of every bad news

Be toward us.

 

Irish Blessings for Saint Patrick’s Day

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May the Irish hills caress you.

May her lakes and rivers bless you.

May the luck of the Irish enfold you.

May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you. 

 

May the love and protection

Saint Patrick can give

Be yours in abundance

As long as you live.

 

Irish Blessings for New Home 

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Irish prayers written on wall plaques or framed pictures are sometimes hung near a the main door of a home and are intended to bestow blessings on all those who enter and leave the house. 

An Irish new home blessing is a thoughtful gift to give a friend or acquaintance moving into a new abode. 

Irish home blessings are still seen in Irish homes today. In the houses of older generations an Irish house blessing would sometimes be accompanied by a holy water font at the front door. 

Below you will find some new home blessings Irish homes proudly have on display.

 

Irish Blessing Prayers for a Home

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Bless you and yours

As well as the cottage you live in.

May the roof overhead be well thatched

And those inside be well matched.

 

May you always have walls for the winds,

a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,

laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,

and all your heart might desire.

 

Bless the four corners of this house

And be the lintel blest,

And bless the hearth and bless the board

And bless each place to rest,

And bless each door that opens wide

To stranger as to kin,

And bless each crystal window pane 

That lets the starlight in.

An bless the rooftree overhead,

And evers sturdy wall

The peace of man, the peace of God

The peace of love on all.

 

May your neighbors respect you,

Troubles neglect you,

The angels protect you,

And Heaven accept you.

 

Irish Blessings Funny

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As you slide down the banisters of life,

may the splinters never point the wrong way.

 

More power to your elbow 

(Well done for your good efforts)

 

May you be in Heaven,

a full half hour

before the devil knows you are dead

 

May your troubles

be as few and as far apart

as my Grandmother’s teeth

 

May the cat eat you

and the devil eat the cat 

 

These blessings Irish people and others might find a bit humorous and they certainly conjure up some hilarious images! The last one of the funny Irish blessings reminds me of an incident frozen in time in Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin – read about the mouse against the cat here.

 

Irish Blessings for Friends

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The Irish have many warm words for their friends so it is little wonder that there are a multitude of Irish friend blessings. Here are some of the best:

 

May the best day of your past be the worst day of your future.

 

May luck be your friend

in whatever you do

and may trouble be always a stranger to you.

 

Here’s to the health of your enemies’ enemies.

 

Good times, good friends,

good health to you

and the luck of the Irish in all that you do.

 

Wishing you a rainbow

For sunlight after showers

Miles and miles of Irish smiles

For golden happy hours

Shamrocks at your doorway

For luck and laughter too,

And a host of friends that never ends

Each day your whole life through.

 

May the roof over our heads never fall in.

And may we as friends never fall out.

 

May the mist of Irish magic shorten every road

And may your friends remember the favors you are owed.

 

Irish Blessings for Hard Times

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When times are tough, then an Irish blessing for hard times might just help to brighten the outlook a little. 

 

May the lilt of Irish laughter lighten every load.

 

With the help of God, you’ll get through it.

 

We cannot share this sorrow

If we haven’t grieved a while.

Nor can we feel another’s joy

Until we’ve learned to smile.

 

A Short Irish Prayer for Healing 

 

May God give you…

For every storm, a rainbow,

For every tear, a smile,

For every care, a promise,

And a blessing in each trial.

For every problem life sends,

A faithful friend to share,

For every sigh, a sweet song,

And an answer for each prayer.

 

Irish Blessings for Good Luck

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Many people wish for a bit of Irish good luck. These blessings and Irish good luck sayings may just help you to strike it lucky!

An Irish good luck blessing in Irish or Gaelic that might look familiar to you it is the first line of The Irish Prayer. It is commonly used to wish some one good luck.

 

Go n-eirí an t-ádh leat.

(Pronounced Guh nye-ree on taw laht)

Good luck to you

 

May your pockets be heavy

and your heart be light,

May good luck pursue you

each morning and night. 

 

Wherever you go and whatever you do,

May the luck of the Irish be there with you.

 

Like the warmth of the sun

and the light of the day,

may the luck of the Irish

shine bright on your way. 

 

Irish Farewell Blessings

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May love and laughter light your days,

and warm your heart and home.

May good and faithful friends be yours,

wherever you may roam.

 

May peace and plenty bless your world

with joy that long endures.

May all life’s passing seasons

bring the best to you and yours!

 

May the Lord keep you in His hand

and never close His fist too tight

 

Short Irish Blessings and Irish Sayings

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To all the days here and after,

may they be filled with fond memories,

happiness and laughter.

 

May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow

and may trouble avoid you wherever you go.

 

May your home always be too small to hold all your friends.

 

Irish Blessings in Gaelic

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(With an Irish Blessing Gaelic translation and pronunciation guide for the Gaelic blessing words)

 

 Rath Dé ort  

(Pronounced: Rah Day urt)

The grace of God on you

 

Sláinte chugat

(Pronounced: slawn-cha hoo-ut)

Good health to you

 

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis

(Pronounced: Err yesh Day Guh Rev a on-um dee-lish)

May his faithful soul be on God’s right hand

 

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dílis

(Pronounced: Err yesh Day Guh Rev a hon-um dee-lish)

May her faithful soul be on God’s right hand

 

And my personal favorite Irish Gaelic blessing is….

Codladh sámh

(pronounced: Cuh-lah sawve)

 

Still looking for the perfect Irish Happy Birthday blessing? We also have some great Happy Birthday Blessings in Irish if you are looking for some more inspiration.

Blessings are not the only thing Ireland is famous for, read our other post to find out some other things that Ireland is known for around the world.