It’s the most well-known Irish blessing, but what exactly are the origins of the much-loved blessing "May the road rise up to meet you"?

In full, the blessing, which is also used as a prayer, reads as follows:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always 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.

"May the road rise to meet you" is an Irish blessing that has been passed down through generations. It is a traditional way of wishing someone good luck and fortune on their journey through life. This blessing has a simple yet powerful message that has resonated with people all over the world.

The origin of this blessing is not entirely clear, but it is believed to have its roots in Ireland. The Irish are known for their love of language and poetry, and this blessing is a perfect example of that. It is a beautiful and meaningful way of expressing good wishes for someone.

Originally written in the Irish language, the prayer – the author is unknown – has three main images, namely wind, sun, and rain. Fittingly for something written so long ago, the ancient Irish’s deep connection to nature and Ireland’s ever-changing elements shine through.

The reference to the wind is thought to be a reference to the Holy Spirit, who came as a “mighty wind” at Pentecost.

The sun’s warmth alludes to God’s mercy which the New Testament (Luke 1:78, NIV) tells us “by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven.”

The mention of rain is thought to be symbolic of God’s provision – nothing will grow without rain.

In Irish, the first line “Go n-éirí an bóthar leat” more literally usually translated as “May you succeed on the road” the French equivalent of which is “bon voyage.”

It makes for a perfect toast for a wedding or going away party!

* Originally published in 2017. Updated in March 2023.