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Comforting Irish Funeral Blessings: Words of Hope & Healing

Choosing the right words for a funeral is not an easy task. 

While trying to celebrate the life of the departed person, we also want to comfort and console those left behind. 

We hope that the Irish blessing funeral inspiration in this article will help you find exactly what you are looking for. 

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What is an Irish Blessing?

White candles and roses on timber
Irish Blessings can provide comfort during times of loss. (Photo: Pixel-Shot via Shutterstock)

An Irish blessing is a phrase or poem that implies goodwill and good wishes to someone. 

There are many different Irish Blessings. 

Many are to celebrate happy occasions such as birthdays and marriage celebrations

However, there are also blessings for other important occasions in life such as deaths and funerals. 

What is an Irish funeral blessing?

An Irish funeral blessing is a meaningful phrase or poem that can be shared at a funeral service or memorial gathering for example. 

For those with a strong connection to Ireland, Irish culture and Irish heritage, the inclusion of such a blessing can have great significance. 

However, the applicable wording of many Irish Blessings for funerals is not just suitable for those with close affinity to Ireland. 

Their simplicity and appeal speaks to many and can be a solace in tough times. 

Peace, protection, support and comfort is implied through the words of Irish funeral blessings. This is for both the deceased and their relatives and friends.

Blessings are very much part of Irish culture and tradition. 

Irish Blessings for death would not only have been included in the funeral service, but Irish blessings would also have been shared with the family of the deceased at the wake. 

Related Article: Irish Prayers for Death and Funerals

This related article covers:

  • Irish death blessings
  • Irish sayings on death
  • Irish proverbs on death
  • Irish condolences quotes

What is an Irish Wake?

An Irish Wake is a special custom that takes place before the deceased person is buried. 

Traditionally, the deceased would be laid out in their own home for a specific period of time. 

Neighbors and others in the community would stop by the family home to pay their respects, share an Irish death blessing and show their support and sympathy. 

While there is an air of solemnity to this occasion, it also acts as a part celebration of the deceased person’s life. 

Irish wakes also can include drinking, toasts, storytelling and the occasional prank.

In this context, Irish deaths also tended to keep communities closely connected, particularly in times gone by.

This tradition is still present in some more rural communities in Ireland.

Types of Irish Funeral Blessings

Christian Based Irish Funeral Blessings

Quite a few of the Irish Blessings are Christian based. 

The Roman Catholic Church has played a significant role in shaping Irish culture, traditions and society. 

This influence can be still seen in many of the blessings around the theme of death. 

One commonly used prayer when someone dies in Ireland is: 

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. 

The peaceful waters of Lough Inagh in Connemara, County Galway.
The peaceful waters of Lough Inagh in Connemara, County Galway. (Photo: elementals via Shutterstock)

Spiritual Irish Funeral Blessings

Other Irish blessings focus on nature and the world around us. 

Natural imagery features commonly in Irish blessings and can conjure rich impressions.

These simple, yet beautiful words are highly suitable as an Irish blessing for death and funeral services.

How to incorporate funeral blessings into a service or memorial gathering?

Blessings can be incorporated into the funeral service in a number of ways.

It is worth finding one that appeals to you and the memory of the deceased. 

Reading an Irish Blessing

One option is to invite a family member or friend of the deceased to read a well chosen and appropriate blessing or one of the Irish poems on death. 

This act honors the memory of the departed person in a touching way.

Personalized Irish Blessing

Another more personal option, is to write the chosen blessing on paper and place it in the coffin or on the coffin during burial. 

These written blessings can also be inscribed with personal messages to the departed person and can be a fitting Irish farewell blessing. 

Inscribed Irish Blessing

An Irish blessing could also be inscribed on a headstone or carved piece of timber for example and placed by the graveside or memorial place. 

Traditional Irish Blessings for Funerals

There are a few well known Irish Blessings that are commonly included in funeral services and memorial events. 

The Irish Prayer and St. Patrick’s Prayer are some of the most popular Irish funeral prayers. 

The Irish Prayer 

This prayer or blessing is one that is used for several different types of occasions, including funerals. 

The meaningful words of the blessing can either be spoken or sung depending on preference.

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 Stairway to Heaven Walkway with an Irish Blessing.
May the Road Rise to Meet You Blessing on the Stairway to Heaven in County Fermanagh. (Photo: ianmitchinson via Shutterstock)

The Irish Prayer or The Irish Blessing as it is also known as, can also be said in the Irish language. 

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. 

Related Article: May the Road Rise to Meet You

The Irish Prayer Funeral Meaning 

When used in a funeral setting, the Irish Prayer can be interpreted as a form of Irish farewell prayer for the departed person. 

The gentle words of this Irish blessing for funerals remind us that the departed person is not alone in their journey and challenging times.

Family and friends of the deceased may be consoled by the phrase “Until we meet again”. 

The idea of reuniting once again with their loved one can be a very moving one. 

This is just one of the many reasons why this Irish Blessing funeral poem is so popular.

As this blessing also deals with new beginnings, it is also frequently included in Irish Wedding Blessings.

St. Patrick’s Prayer

A section fo St. Patrick's Breastplate with an image of the Atlantic Ocean at night.
A section fo St. Patrick’s Breastplate with an image of the Atlantic Ocean at night. (Photo: Patryk Kosmider via Shutterstock)

Saint Patrick’s Prayer or Saint Patrick’s Breastplate is another Irish prayer that is applicable in a wide range of circumstances. 

For those who had a strong connection with this prayer in life, it is a fitting tribute to also include it in their funeral service. 

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.

It is most commonly recited as a hymn and is an ideal option if you are looking for an Irish Blessing funeral song. 

St. Patrick’s Prayer Meaning

There are different interpretations of the famous Irish funeral prayer. 

In terms of funerals, it can mean that the deceased person will never be alone in their journey after life.

Comfort and protection from harm will be granted by God and the holy spirit at all times.

It is commonly used as an Irish prayer for the dead. 

Irish Sayings about Death of a Mother or Father

A comforting Irish Blessing with a coastal view.
A comforting Irish Blessing with a coastal view. (Photo: Luca Rei via Shutterstock)

Losing a parent at any stage in life is difficult. 

Honoring their memory by remembering the better times enjoyed together is just one way to move forward after their death. 

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal,
Love leaves a memory no one can steal.

Until we meet again, 
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Irish Blessings for Memorial Cards

For those left behind, death can leave a painful heartache. Finding ways to move forward one step at a time can be challenging. 

If you are trying to find the right words to comfort the bereaved about their loss, perhaps an Irish blessing for the death of a friend or family member may help. 

As well as sharing them with the loved ones left behind, you can also include an Irish blessing for the dead on memorial cards. 

An Irish blessing of condolence.
An Irish blessing of condolence. (Photo: Dawid K Photography via Shutterstock)

These short Irish blessings can also be included on memorial flower wreaths and bouquets.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis. 
(May his soul be on God’s right hand/rest in peace)

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dílis.
(May her soul be on God’s right hand/rest in peace)

May the blessings of each day
Be the blessings you need most.

May your days be many and your troubles few,
May God’s blessing descend upon you.
May peace be within you and may your heart be strong
May you find what you’re seeking wherever you roam.

May joy and peace surround you,
Contentment latch your door,
And happiness be with you now,
And bless you evermore.

Irish Blessings Death and Longevity

An Irish Blessing to Saint Patrick.
An Irish Blessing to Saint Patrick. (Photo: MNStudio via Shutterstock)

The importance of having a good, long and happy life can be seen in many of the Irish blessings. 

The following selection of blessings relate to life, death and longevity. While some are serious in tone, others might bring a smile. 

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 Sayings about Long Life

May you live as long as you want, 
but never want as long as you live.

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

May the doctor never earn a pound out of you.

Irish Toast for the Dead

If you are looking for a short Irish toast to the dead, these words about death might be ones that you think are fitting. 

Until we meet again, 
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Solas Mhic Dé ar a n-anam.
(The Light of the Son of God on their soul)

“Sláinte” is the version of Irish Cheers that is most known around the world. It means good health and can also be used in this context. 

Irish Funeral Toast Funny

Fall leaves of the birch tree
Fall leaves. (Photo: Andy333 via Shutterstock)

While death can bring much sadness, it is also important to remember the good times with the departed.

Perhaps it is even appropriate to have an Irish farewell toast in their memory. 

If they enjoyed humor, it might be worth considering one of these more lighthearted Irish funeral blessings. 

May you be in Heaven,
A full half hour 
Before the devil knows you are dead.

May your coffin be made of finest wood 
From a 100-year-old tree, 
That I’ll go plant tomorrow!

An an famous Irish saying about death:

May the good Lord take a liking to you, 
But not too soon.

Death is Nothing at All 

Golden leaves on a pathway.
Golden leaves on a pathway. (Photo: Alex_An_Der via Shutterstock)

Is “Death is Nothing at All” an Irish funeral poem? 

Death is nothing at all is occasionally thought of as having Irish origins. 

However, the origins of this text are actually English, so it is not one of the Irish poems about death. 

It was written by the English born Reverend Canon Henry Scott Holland in 1910. 

Interestingly, it was never intended to be a poem. It was written as part of a sermon that was read after the death of King Edward VII. 

Given its popularity, we have chosen to include it here too and discuss its true origins.

Death is nothing at all. 
It does not count. 
I have only slipped away into the next room. 

Nothing has happened. 
Everything remains exactly as it was. 
I am I, and you are you, 
And the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. 

Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. 
Call me by the old familiar name. 
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. 
Put no difference into your tone. 
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. 

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. 
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. 
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. 
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. 

Life means all that it ever meant. 
It is the same as it ever was. 
There is absolute and unbroken continuity. 

What is this death but a negligible accident? 
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? 
I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. 

All is well. 
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. 
One brief moment and all will be as it was before. 
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

Irish Themed Funeral Ideas

An lighthouse in Dublin (Poolbeg).
A lighthouse in Dublin (Poolbeg). (Photo: Peter Krocka via Shutterstock)

Irish blessings are not the only way to incorporate some Irish culture into a memorial service at a place of worship or funeral home. 

For example, funerals can also include Irish funeral poems or Irish blessing death quotes from famous people to enrich the service.

When possible, selecting native Irish flowers for funeral bouquets is another small gesture that can have deep meaning. 

There are many Irish symbols that hold significance for those with a love of Ireland and Irish culture. 

One or more of these symbols or keepsakes could also be included in the service as important elements of the deceased’s life. 

More information about Irish prayer blessings and more can be found on our website.