The Irish word for ‘Hello’ is ‘Dia Dhuit‘ [literal translation: ‘May God be with you’].

To which the reply is: ‘Dia is Mhuire Dhuit’. [‘May God and his Holy Mother be with you].  And so it can continue, one topping the other with further offerings of assorted saints and angels before getting down to business.

This kind of talk sounds strange to an anglicised ear. In England, yoking the spiritual into an everyday exchange like that would be considered discourteous, even suspect.

I have a foot in both camps. I have no time for religiosity, in any variety, but I love the quotidian sense of the divine in some of the ancient Irish blessings.

Here is my adaptation of a favourite I’ve been working on for a while.  It features rain, which won’t come as a surprise to Irish readers — or any of you who’ve ever visited that soggy island.

Water’s Way
May the blessing of the soft rains
be on you. May they seep
into your spirit so its gentlest flowers may spring, shedding
sweetness on the air.

May the blessing of the great rains
be on you. May they beat
upon your spirit washing it fair and clear, leaving
many a pool where the blue
of heaven can shine, and sometime
too a star.

And may that twilight
when it comes to pass find you
gently flowering,

[for Catrien]