"May the road rise up to meet you" Irish blessingiStockphoto

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 wind be always at your back."

"May the wind be always at your back."

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.

Read more: What do Erin go Bragh and other Irish phrases mean?

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

"May the sun shine warm upon your face."

"May the sun shine warm upon your face."

The sun’s warmth alludes to God’s Mercy which the New Testament (Luke 1:78, NIV) tell 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 rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again."

"The rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again."

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!

Read more: Irish birthday blessings and wishes