St. Patrick’s Day may have its roots in Irish Catholic history, but for North Americans, the Irish holiday has become a general celebration of all things hats

Celtic-themed parades, shamrocks and green-tinted beverages have all become standard fare on March 17, in a hat tip to all of the contributions Ireland has given the world. And there are many.

If you’re in need of a reason (or an excuse) to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year, consider paying tribute to some of the greatest gifts Ireland has given the world. Then consider giving back with a gift of your own.

A Note about the Shamrock

Today the four-leafed clover is a symbol of good luck, but in Saint Patrick’s time, the more common three-leafed plant was used as a symbol of the holy trinity.

Saint Patrick

Saint Patrick, the day’s namesake, was a fifth-century Christian missionary and bishop, and is the primary patron saint of Ireland. Saint Patrick is said to have been captured by Irish pirates as a teenager, and held captive for 6 years. During that time, he found God, and after his escape and return home, later made his way back to the emerald Isle to do God’s work. St. Patrick’s Day honours the date of his death.


Consider, as you enjoy a pint (or three) of Ireland’s most famous beer on March 17, that the Guinness family built their business with purpose: to give back. Arthur Guinness gave generously to the poor, and his children upheld his legacy by giving back to the company’s employees. To this day, the Guinness Partnership continues to fund projects in England and Ireland aimed at helping those in need.

Chocolate Milk

If your preference is for chocolate over beer, thank Ireland for the invention of chocolate milk. The drink was created by Sir Hans Sloane, an Irish-born physician and collector. After a trip to Jamaica, where he experienced cocoa mixed with water, he brought the cocoa home and mixed it with milk instead, a recipe that was first used medicinally, and later purchased and sold by the Cadbury brothers.


Some of the world’s most celebrated writers hail from Ireland, including C.S. Lewis, George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce and Oscar Wilde. Dublin was actually designated a UNESCO City of Literature, one of only four in the world (along with Edinburgh, Iowa and Melbourne). So if raucous partying isn’t your thing, consider settling in with a good Irish book on St. Patrick’s Day.

Wildlife Protection

Ireland was the first country in Europe to create an ocean sanctuary for dolphins and whales, giving them a safe place to call home. Its residents include Fin Whales, Humpback Whales and dolphins. The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group works on conservation and better understanding of these marine animals.

Want to honour the Irish by giving back this St. Patrick’s Day? Search for a charity of your choice.

Photo Credits:
– Clover by Almanaque Lusofonista (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

– Irish Hats by [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

5 Reasons to Celebrate What Ireland Has Given the World

Lisa Manfield

Lisa Manfield is a digital writer with Chimp. She has been a writer and editor with BC Living, BC Business and Backbone magazines, and a content strategist for numerous small businesses and tech startups. She also teaches writing and editing for the web at Simon Fraser University.

Category: Charity Matters