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 Up to Meet You is the most well-known Irish blessing

May the Road Rise Up to Meet You is the most well-known Irish blessing

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  prayer has three main images- wind, sun, and rain

The prayer has three main images- wind, sun, and rain

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 the rain.

The mention of rain in the blessing is thought to be symbolic of God’s provision

The mention of rain in the blessing is thought to be symbolic of God’s provision

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 2021.