Feeling Lucky to Be Irish

I was raised with an Irish Blessing that unknowingly helped to guide me through life. The prayer was displayed on the wall, of our humble kitchen. I remember it was carved into wood with delicately painted green shamrocks all around the verse. The blessing went like this:

“May the road rise up to meet you,

May the wind be ever at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

and may the rains fall softly upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

may God hold you in the palm of his hand”. (Author unknown)

My mother was 100 % Irish and she loved this blessing because the message mirrored her intent to teach her four children to appreciate the simple things of life and that God is ever present. She felt that we were lucky by the mere nature of our Irish ancestral blood. She took great pride in the strength and ingenuity of her ancestors. She taught me that I was lucky to be born Irish, although I am only 50%. I quickly learned to blame the unlucky events in my life on the other half of my heritage that came from my alcoholic father. In spite of being raised in a crazy and chaotic home I learned to value the intangible gift of feeling supported by the divine as in this Irish blessing. The image of the sun on my face, illuminating my way and the wind at my back urging me to move forward carried me through many a difficult passage. The gift of Mother Nature showering my dreams with rain so my hope and faith in myself and life could grow has sustained me. And finally, the image of God holding me like a holy child, gives me a sense of protection and care.

My mom always reminded me and my three siblings that when things got hard, that the luck of the Irish was always with us. As we struggled with poverty and alcoholism in our home, she remained ever constant in her outlook that we were lucky because there were people much worse off than us. If we forgot how lucky we were to live in a small house in the country, she would load all four kids into the car and drive to the inner city where children had no yards to play in. She also reminded us of our ancestors who survived the great potato famine in Ireland and that we came from hearty stock. She sited memories from her own childhood, being one of ten children who shared two rooms. Then she would tell us how all ten children grew up and graduated college in spite of their frugal upbringing.

On hindsight, I see now that I was programmed to feel lucky from a young age. This sense of luck had nothing to do with fame or fortune. Instead, the luck I was taught was to count my blessings and to trust God no matter what. I also learned that if I worked hard and sacrificed my short term goals for long term rewards that I would live a lucky life. So even though from time to time I would look at others and think they were luckier than me because they had more material gains, more knowledge, traveled the world or seemed more successful than myself, I would stop myself and remember that simple Irish blessing and give thanks that I was being held in the hands of God with the sun on my face and the wind on my back. May the luck of the Irish be with you too.

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