If you’ve never met an Irishman, then you don’t know what fun you’re missing out on. And if you’ve never had a drink (or two or three) with an Irishman, you don’t know what you’re missing. The Irish are as a
people, jovial, and generous to a fault. They also have some of the best drinking toasts ever, and if you’ve never heard any Irish drinking toasts you’re definitely missing out on something!
Irish drinking toasts will normally tickle the listener’s funny bone, and if you find yourself in the company of several Irishmen, don’t be surprised if there is more than one toast. Along with their sense of fun and their steadfastness, you will also find that they love to “whet their whistle” many a time, which is why there are so many Irish drinking toasts doing the rounds.
And although you might think that an Irish pub would be the best place to hear some Irish drinking toasts, you would be (partly) mistaken. Some of the best places where their sense of fun and camaraderie comes out, is when they are at social functions.
So, for something like a wedding, you should not really be surprised to hear a few of the cleaner Irish drinking toasts being bandied around along with the traditional Irish wedding toasts and blessings.
Most of the time you will hear a “Sláinte” (pronounced something along the lines of “Slawn-tche”), which means good health. This and other Irish drinking toasts beginning with “Sláinte” are generally the equivalent of the proverbial “Cheers!” or “Salute!”, but you have to admit that it sounds a whole lot better than a simple “Cheers!”
If you have ever heard any Irish drinking toasts, you might have noticed that a suitably fitting response is always to reply back “Sláinte”. Since this means “health” it is perfectly acceptable to answer a toast with it. You will also find that many Irish drinking toasts begin with “Sláinte”, or have it contained somewhere within the toast itself.
Other good Irish drinking toasts have nothing whatsoever to do with good health, but they can be something more spiritual in nature. A good example of this is, “May the love and protection Saint Patrick can give, be yours as long as you live!” Or maybe even, “May God not weaken your hand”.
As you can see Irish drinking toasts are many and varied, not to mention colorful. They can bring tears of joy or sentiment to your eyes, and they epitomize all that is good about the Irish. “Here’s to a sweetheart, a bottle, and a friend. The first beautiful, the second full, and the last ever faithful.”