The Irish Blessing tends to refer to a specific blessing that may be used in a toast at weddings or gatherings. However, this blessing is simply the most well known one. It goes as follows:
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.
This Irish Blessing is often attributed to St. Patrick, but that is likely confusion between the it and a much longer prayer called the “Breastplate of St. Patrick.” The author is unknown, and even dating the Blessing is difficult.
Though this Irish Blessing is quite common in usage in countries to which the Irish immigrated, there are more traditional blessings for weddings, wakes, and other ceremonial events. Many of the blessings represent wishes for plentiful agricultural rewards, healthy children, and closeness with God.
These numerous blessings are generally so beautifully worded, that people are often surprised by the various Irish curses. Of the curses, the following is the best known:
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 may know them by their limping.
Origin of this curse is as unknown as that of the most common Irish Blessing. It can be said however that the Irish are known for their ability to turn a word to good profit either for good or ill.
Irish drinking toasts are also numerous, and tend to be less serious, representing the celebration of all things good and humorous. One famous one is a toast to wives and girlfriends, “May they never meet.” However other drinking toasts may represent the long struggle with the British over land control, wishing “land without rent to you.”
Since the Irish Blessing, or blessings, curses and toasts are often of anonymous origin, they can generally be used without requiring referencing of a source. There are a few attributed to authors that may not be in the public domain. The best-known ones, however, are remembered better for the smiles they put on people’s faces, than for their authors.