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May the Road Rise to Meet You: The Complete Guide to the Irish Blessing

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Traditional Irish Blessing

May the Road Rise to Meet You is the first phrase of the very popular Irish Blessing. This blessing, sometimes known as The Irish Blessing Prayer, The Irish Travel Prayer or simply The Irish Prayer is well known all around the world.


What is the traditional Irish Blessing?

The Irish Blessing May the Road Rise to Meet You is a short prayer that is also sometimes used as a poem.

It wishes someone protection and prosperity for their journey and that their obstacles will be easily overcome. This can be taken in a broader sense to also mean life and therefore applied to a range of different circumstances.

Where did the Irish Blessing originate?

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This blessing, as the name suggests, originated in Ireland, although very little is known about how ancient it actually is.

It has certainly been handed down through the generations for a long time and there is a history of blessings in Ireland dating back to probably even Celtic pre-Christian times.

Originally the Irish Blessing is thought to have been written in the Irish language and then later translated into English.

Along the way, there have been some misinterpretations and deviations from the original Irish version.

Who wrote the Irish Blessing?

As no one knows for sure who the original author of the Irish Blessing was, there has been a lot of different speculation.

As with many blessings, Saint Patrick has been credited with creating this prayer too. In all likelihood, this seems a bit too unlikely and far-fetched of an idea.

May the Road Rise to Meet You – Irish Blessing Text

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There are several different English versions of this blessing. The most well-known version of the Irish Blessing 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.

An alternative version of the May the Road Rise up to Meet You full poem is here:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Both versions are identical in meaning, but have the slight difference of the use of  “rise up” in the first line instead of just “rise” and the inclusion of the word “always” in the second line.

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The original version of the May the Road Rise to Meet You in Irish Gaelic.

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.

When to use the Irish Blessing Prayer?

Faith and religion have long played prominent roles in Ireland and many of life’s major events have been (and in many cases continue to be) celebrated in connection with the Church, such as births, deaths, Communions, Confirmations and marriages.

The symbolism in the Irish Blessing is usually interpreted in a religious way, whereby the person being blessed will receive God’s protection and help along their journey.

Various interpretations suggest that the wind, sun and rain nature imagery can have deeper religious meaning.

For example, the “warm sun” can be a sign of God’s mercy and the “wind” may be the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The “rain” can be seen as nourishment or sustenance in order to grow mentally, physically and also spiritually.

Protection offered in the palm of God’s hand is supposed to feel supportive and remove any feeling of loneliness or struggles by oneself.

There are no hard set rules as to the occasions where it is appropriate to use this blessing.  It is up to you to see if it suits the situation.

Here are just some of the varied occasions where the May the Road Irish Blessing can be used.

Irish Blessing for Wedding

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The Irish Blessing is one that commonly features as an Irish wedding blessing.

On a wedding day, two individuals unite along the road of life.

This blessing wishes them well along their life’s journey, hoping that they will prosper along the way and overcome obstacles that they encounter with support of each other.

This blessing is one of the most widely used Irish wedding wishes quotes and can greatly enhance a speech or used as a toast to mark the occasion.

Irish Farewell Blessing

The Irish blessing farewell imparts a touching goodbye from one person to another until they meet again.

This is a tender message for anyone who must part ways for a short or long amount of time.

It is sometimes referred to as The Travelers Prayer and can impart an Irish interpretation on “Bon Voyage”.

During the time apart, the wish is for the person to be kept safe and prevail through any hardships or difficulties.

There is also a hope that the conditions that will arise will be favorable for them.

The use of the word “rain” could be interrupted as the necessary conditions for personal growth during the time apart.

Irish Blessing for Funeral

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The Irish Blessing, May the Road Rise to Meet You can be used as a beautiful parting farewell at funerals.

It is probably one of the most popular of all Celtic prayers for funerals.

The touching words of the May the Road Rise to Meet You funeral blessing wishes the departed person support through any struggles, protection, and a feeling of not being alone.

The words “until we meet again” in this Irish parting blessing can provide particular solace for those left behind and this Irish blessing funeral prayer helps give them strength to live on in the absence of their loved one.

May the Road Rise to Meet You song is sometimes sung at funerals as a form of Irish farewell prayer.

If you would like to read about more Irish blessings and prayers, you can find out some more about the history of ancient Irish blessings in our post.

May the Road Rise to Meet You Meaning 

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May the Road rise to meet you, or May the road rise up to meet you has become a well known phrase, but its meaning and origins might leave you a little confused.

In fact, May the road rise to meet you images might conjure up you falling towards the road which is definitely not the meaning implied!

The literal translation of Go n-éirí an bóthar leat from the Irish Gaelic version of the Irish blessing is “May the road go with you”, or “May the road rise with you” which can be interpreted as “May your journey be a prosperous one” or “May you have success on your journey”.

Somewhere along the way, the English translation became “May the road rise to meet you” and that is how it has become known.

May the Road Rise to Meet You quote is seen on many items connected with Ireland.

A range of items such as May the Road Rise to Meet You plaques and wall blessings, to greeting cards, mugs and souvenirs are available and are often bought as mementos from trips to Ireland.

Interestingly, the first line of the Irish version of the blessing, Go n-éirí an bóthar leat, is another way to wish someone good luck in Irish.

For some tips as to how to pronounce the Irish or Irish Gaelic version of the blessing, check here.

May the Wind be at Your Back Meaning

The famous line “May the wind be at your back” from the Irish Blessing Prayer is sometimes written as “May the wind always be at your back”. Whichever version you prefer is completely up to you, as the meaning stays the same.

What is the meaning of “May the wind be at your back”?

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When the wind is at your back, or behind you, it helps to push you forwards, making the journey easier.

The blessing wishes that as part of your journey, or experience or even over the course of your life that you will receive help and support along the way.

Anyone who has ever had to walk in a strong wind for very long knows that it can be a very draining challenge and the opposite is true when the wind is behind you.

A more religious interpretation may connect the wind with the Holy Spirit or Christ’s Spirit, in assisting and perhaps even guiding along the journey or path of life.


Is the Irish Blessing a song?

While this was originally written as a prayer in Irish, there have been various other versions and adaptations have been created including May the Road Rise to Meet You poems and some renditions as an old Irish Blessing song.

In 1999, Phil Coulter, the Irish musician and composer, released An Irish Blessing song for his album Healing Angel.

An Irish Blessing lyrics are narrated by Roma Downey and the background vocals are sung by Aoife Ní Fhearriagh.

May the road rise to meet you sheet music is available if you want to try the Irish blessing song yourself.

May the Road Rise to Meet You lyrics were slightly rewritten for charity song May the Road Rise – A New Dawn that was released in June 2020 as part of a fundraising effort by Irish and American musicians for front-line healthcare workers during the Covid19 pandemic.

An Irish Blessing video of all the artists taking part in this song can be seen on youtube.

May the Road Rise Up to Meet you – Is it a novel?

May the Road Rise up to Meet You is a historical romance novel by Peter Troy published in 2012.

It is set during the American Civil War and tells the story of an Irish immigrant, Ethan McOwen, who sets out alone from Ireland for a new life for himself in America and the people he meets along the way.

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Have a browse around our website if you would like to learn more about Irish Blessings, Irish Happy Birthday Blessings or What Ireland is known for.

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