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.
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 the 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.