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Irish Blessings for Luck, Love, A Good Life, A Good Death and Everything In Between

Irish Blessings for Luck, Love, A Good Life, A Good Death and Everything In Between

Stuart Marley |

Nobody knows for sure who it was who first said that Ireland was “the land of saints and scholars”.

If there is one place where sainthood and scholarliness combines, it is in the well-chosen words that make up heart-felt blessings. And the auld sod has produced a long list of Irish blessings, for every occasion. 

When the topic of Irish blessings comes up for discussion, there is one that stands head and shoulders above them all — in the public consciousness, at least.

The blessing that begins “May the road rise up to meet you” has cut through the culture, and there is scarcely an Irish person, or person with a proud Irish ancestry anywhere around the world, who has not heard the rhyme.

The first stanza of the poem — the identity of the original author has long been lost to the mists of time — reads:

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

It is, in so many ways, a pitch-perfect blessing.

In just six short lines, it manages to convey a wish for good fortune bestowed upon the listener:

  • against all terrain
  • against all weather conditions
  • in the company of the almighty

Amid the sun and wind and rain, a downhill road and the hollow of God’s hand, four words stand out and convey a deeper meaning, emotion and pathos.

“Until we meet again”

The trappings of modern life in much of the world — Ireland and the US included — have made intercontinental travel and long haul holidays almost an annual experience for many.

But it’s not so long since mothers and fathers said farewell to sons and daughters at the door, not knowing when, or even if, they would share time and space again.

Emigration has been a staple of Irish life since at least the Great Famine of the 1840s, but there are many with Irish blood who would admit that they would be wandering types even without necessity.

In short, those of us who claim Irish identity are a walking paradox: no matter how much we might love the idea of home, we are still generally a restless sort.

Given the choice of staying here and going there, the second option often comes out on top.

And so, while not as tangible as the parish or the local GAA club, or fastening a bunch of shamrock to your lapel on St Patrick’s Day, farewells and homecomings are as central a part of Irish identity as anything else.

All of which makes the “May the road rise up to meet you” blessing such a powerful one for Irish people, whether you’re born and bred on the island or you’re working hard to uncover a long hidden family tree.

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“May the road rise up to meet you” has also entered the consciousness in recent years from everything to big-screen Disney movies and to popular business podcasts.

In 2020, Hollywood’s version of the Artemis Fowl stories arrived, starring Ferdia Shaw as the eponymous hero and iconic Irish actor Colin Farrell as his father, and the teaser trailer made a star of the Irish blessing.

Meanwhile, Brian Buffini, the influential Irish-born business and real estate coach based in San Diego, has made the blessing a cornerstone of his popular It’s a Good Life podcast.

Every episode of the show ends with a recording of Buffini’s elderly Irish mother, Therese Buffini, reciting the blessing, in her gorgeous lilting Irish accent.

But if “May the road rise up to meet you” stands tall as possibly the most archetypal of all Irish blessings, that doesn’t mean it stands alone.

Irish Blessings for Good Luck Against All Troubles

Maybe it’s the shared famine history.

Maybe it’s the endless emigration.

Maybe it’s the fact the country is forever cast away off the west coast of Europe.

Maybe it’s all those centuries existing under the heavy weight of British rule.

Maybe it’s all of the above, and more, but one thing is for certain: a great number of Irish blessings reference the troubles you’re virtually guaranteed to have, and wishing you the strength and wisdom and good luck to overcome them all.

As in:

May your troubles be less and your blessings be more, 
And nothing but happiness come through your door.

Indeed, the word “trouble” seems to appear in Irish blessings as much as any other.


May your blessings outnumber 
The Shamrocks that grow. 
And may trouble avoid you 
Wherever you go.


For the test of the heart is trouble 
And it always comes with years. 
And the smile that is worth the praises of earth 
Is the smile that shines through the tears.

There’s an Irish personality type that can sometimes express giddy optimism and downright fatalism in the course of one two-minute conversation.

Maybe all of these “blessings against troubles” are just another manifestation of that common Irish trait.

A Blessing for Leprechaun Luck

We couldn’t mine the wisdoms and blessings of old Ireland without a nod to our leprechaun friends.

Leprechauns in Irish mythology are mischievous little fellows — perhaps the most memorably depiction came in the 1959 Disney film Darby O’Gill and the Little People, with Albert Sharpe in the title role, a young Sean Connery in one of his first performances, and Jimmy O’Dea as Brian Connors, king of the leprechauns.

It was a good idea to have a blessing against such mischievousness, to try to keep the little people on your side.

One such blessing goes:

May the leprechauns dance over your bed and bring you sweet dreams.

Blessings Perfect for Greeting Cards

Other Irish blessings for good luck include a handful of rhymes and couples that might occasionally be seen in Irish-themed Hallmark cards.

May the roof above us never fall in. 
And the friends below it never fall out!


May peace and plenty bless your world 
With a joy that long endures 
And may all life's passing seasons 
Bring the best to you and yours.

As well as:

Always remember to forget 
The things that made you sad. 
But never forget to remember 
The things that made you glad.

In a more modern tone, another little blessing indicates that if you’re Irish in the first place, you’re already blessed!

If you're lucky enough to be Irish…
You're lucky enough!

The shortest Irish blessing of them all

Perhaps the shortest of all Irish blessings for good fortune, and arguably the most powerful too, is the one often heard in a cosy pub with a glass of something stronger than water in your hand.


It doesn’t mean “Cheers”, although that might be implied, nor does it mean “bottoms up”, although that might be what happens next.

No, “sláinte” means simply “Good health”.

It you’d like to show your deftness in the Irish (or Gaelic) language, just add another word, chugat, pronounced koo-it. “Sláinte chugat” means “Good health to you!”

A Blessing from a Master

Over the past 15 years or so, one Irish blessing has become a favorite of many around the world.

John O’Donohue was an Irish spiritual guide, teacher, theologian, poet and writer, and his appearances on shows such as On Being with Krista Tippett brought his unique brand of humility, wisdom and warmth to new and adoring audiences.

Perhaps his most cherished poem is “Beannacht”, which translates simply as “Blessing”. 

The full poem has become almost a prayer for many and is well worth reading in its entirety — or even better, listening to John O’Donohue read it himself.

We include the final nine lines here.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.


Before we wrap up, let’s finish with a range of other Irish blessings suitable for almost all occasions.

And right at the end we’ll give you one final “blessing” — let’s call it a “mixed blessing”. The kind of thing you might whisper about those who, if they were to be unlucky enough to trip and fall beside you, you might think twice before you help them to their feet.

A Blessing for a Wedding or Anniversary

It doesn't matter where you go in life...what you do...or how much you's who you have beside you.

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A Blessing for Friendship

May the hinges of our friendship never grow rusty.

A Blessing for a Good Life…

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.

… And for a Better Afterlife!

May your glass be ever full. 
May the roof over your head be always strong. 
And may you be in heaven half an hour 
Before the devil knows you're dead.

A Blessing for a New Home

May the grace of God’s protection 
And His great love abide 
Within your home and in the hearts 
Of all who dwell inside.

A Blessing for Travel

May your feet take you
Where your heart wants to go.

A Blessing for Love (Everlasting)

May you have love that never ends,
Lots of money, and lots of friends.

A Blessing for Love (No Matter What Age You Are)

There’s ne’er an auld shoe
But there’s an auld sock to fit it.

And a Blessing for a Good Time

When we drink, we get drunk.
When we get drunk, we fall asleep. 
When we fall asleep, we commit no sin. 
When we commit no sin, we go to heaven. 
So, let's all get drunk, and go to heaven!

Finally, that “Mixed Blessing”, or Irish curse!

May those who love us love us. 
And those that don't love us, 
May God turn their hearts. 
And if He doesn't turn their hearts, 
May he turn their ankles, 
So we'll know them by their limping.

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