Exploring Irish expressions of gratitude for Thanksgiving are a wonderful way to celebrate this holiday with family and friends.
Proverbs and blessings from Ireland often reflect a deep sense of gratitude, and hopefulness. Despite a tumultuous history, full of trials and tribulations, the wise old words of our Irish ancestors are full of simple appreciation for life.
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The Importance of Expressing Gratitude
Good will, beneficial deeds, benevolence, and interpersonal connections are intertwined with and dependent upon the expression of gratitude within a society.
Now that's quite a mouthful to share with you on this Thanksgiving holiday, but I truly believe success, peace, fulfillment, happiness, and a sense of true satisfaction are all dependent upon gratitude.
How we express this gratitude varies from culture to culture and of course the Irish have some very unique ways of expressing their thankfulness.
How To Say Thank You In Irish
When speaking of our gratitude in the Irish language we sometimes say "buíochas" (pronounced bwee-kus). This short, simple word for "thanks" is not used as frequently as the phrase ...
"Go raibh maith agat!"
Pronunciation goes like this in Munster Irish ... Gur-uv mah ah-guth.
The literal translation of this phrase is "may you have goodness."
Isn't that just a lovely way of saying thanks? This simple Irish expression denotes such warmth - a desire for the giver or doer to receive goodness in return for kindness.
The sample above is for expressing thanks to one person. Irish uses different forms of you for the singular and plural. If you wish to say thank you to more than one person or a group of people, here's what you say...
"Go raibh maith agaibh!"
The phonetic pronuciation of the phrase above is gur-uv mah ah-gwiv.
If you wish to place extra emphasis on your expression of gratitude you would say...
"Go raibh míle maith agat."
This literally means may you have a thousand goodnesses. Phonetic pronunciation of this phrase is gur-uv mee-lah mah ah-guth.
Another expression for thank you is the phrase...
This quite literally means a thousand thanks and is pronounced phonetically as mee-lah bwee-kus.
When visiting another country it's a wonderful sign of common courtesy to say thank you in the language of that country. Although Irish people primarily speak English, you can surprise the people you meet by saying thank you in Irish, our native tongue.
Expression Of Gratitude In Irish (Gaelic)
Another old Irish way of saying thanks is through this lovely expression.
"Go méadaí Dia thú!"
Pronunciation, again in Munster Irish, is ... Guh may-dee Dee-ah hoo.
And here's the beautiful meaning . Literally it means "may God increase you", but the true intent of the phrase is "may God make you prosper."
I remember a neighbor in Cork who would always say to my granny ..... "May God increase you, Mam." Now he didn't mean he wanted her to get fat, it was just this simple old Irish expression translated literally into English.
Intensified Expressions of Gratitude
In Ireland a simple statement of "thanks" is often not good enough. The Irish love to intensify their expressions of gratitude by adding a few extra words. The Irish are very fond of extra words and adjectives.
One of my favorites is .....
"Thanks a million."
My kids often ask me why I say "thanks a million" so often.
To tell you the truth I had no idea I use this expression so frequently until my kiddos started pointing out my every utterance of these simple words. You know how it goes. It's fun to pick on Mom when you're eight.
At first I explained it's just an expression we love to use in Ireland, but then I asked myself why do we Irish say this so often?
In Irish Gaelic we often say :
"Go raibh míle maith agat."
This literally means "May you have a thousand good things" and is pronounced Gur-uv mee-la mah ah-guth.
I suppose when we were switching from speaking Irish to English we thought we'd bestow a million goodnesses, rather than just a mere thousand when we say thanks.
And don't forget that Ireland is not just a welcoming land, but the old expression says we give a "céad míle fáilte" (pronounced kay-dh mee-lah faw-il-tah) to visitors. This means a hundred thousand welcomes, which we follow up with a million thanks.
Other intensified expressions include:
"Thank you very, very much."
And sometimes there are so many "verys" attached you might think there are a million coming your way.
Another variation is the declaration:
"Thank you so, so much ..."
I'm sure many of you may have heard an Irish acquaintance say .... "Thank you so, so, very, very much." The "sos" or the "verys" could go on and on and on...... just like an Irish goodbye.
Wise Old Irish Words Of Thanksgiving
Now to round up this little review of Irish thankfulness I thought I might share some old Irish sayings that display a true attitude of gratitude.
I'm quite certain our forefathers never heard of an attitude of gratitude, but nonetheless many Irish blessings and quotations centering on giving thanks truly do show a deep awareness of how important it is to show appreciation for our blessings.
"Get on your knees
And thank the Lord
You're on your feet."
"Count your blessings, not your heartaches."
Here's a lovely one that has a beautiful ring to it, and lovely sentiment...
"Hem your blessings with thankfulness,
So they don't unravel."
"May the dreams you hold dearest,
Be those which come true,
And The kindness you spread,
Keep returning to you."
The Irish also love to count their blessings each and every day.
As a race who survived a devastating famine in the middle of the 19th century, the Irish have learned to be thankful for life.
"May the blessings of each day
Be the blessings you need most."
"Always remember to forget
The troubles that passed away.
But never forget to remember
The blessings that come each day."
"It's easy to be pleasant
when life flows by like a song.
But the man worth while
is the one who can smile.
when everything goes dead wrong."
And here's one advising us to be thankful at the end of each and every day.
"Praise the good day at the close of it."
"A kind word never broke anyone's mouth."
That is definitely a good one to remember.
Here's another one about counting our many blessings.
“Count your blessings instead of your crosses;
Count your gains instead of your losses.
Count your joys instead of your woes;
Count your friends instead of your foes.
Count your smiles instead of your tears;
Count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your full years instead of your lean;
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.
Count your health instead of your wealth;
Love your neighbor as much as yourself.”
A Family Feast
And so as you gather with family and friends to enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, may you keep these Irish words of wisdom in mind as you express your gratitude for the many blessings in your life. And remember ....
"A feast is no use without good talk."
And this Irish Kitchen Prayer .....
"Bless us with good food,
The gift of gab, and hearty laughter.
May the love and joy we share,
Be with us ever after."
Here are some more ramblings and recipes for Thanksgiving you might enjoy.
Wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving.
Lá an Altaithe Shona Daoibh,
Phonetic pronunciation is law on alt-ah-ha hun-ah jeeve.
(Happy Thanksgiving Day)
Thanks for following my recipes and ramblings.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Mairéad -Irish American Mom
Pronunciation - slawn ah-gus ban-ock-th
Mairéad - rhymes with parade
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