Adventure and Leadership Program: Semester Length, Fall and Spring Cohorts

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About

Irish Gap Year’s Adventure & Leadership Gap Year Program will take you far off the beaten track, deep into Irish culture and nature where you will learn much about yourself.

You will become immersed in our community and Irish culture, be challenged physically through outdoor adventure and mentally through our leadership course and volunteering in the community.

The rugged natural beauty of Ireland and warm heartedness of the people offer a unique setting for your journey of self-discovery. Our goal is create an environment that nurtures this process. This program is not a test that is graded, it is a progression of continuous learning and reflection, struggling and failure are as much a part of the process as achievement and success.

Throughout this program you will develop a deeper level of self-awareness, independence, group dynamics and self-governance. We hope that you will take with you a way of thinking and self-awareness that will last a life time.

Highlights
  • Expeditions around Ireland: Each expedition on the Adventure and Leadership Program is unique with its own area of focus and theme. The expeditions are 3 to 5 days each and will and bring you far off the beaten track and face to face with Ireland’s hidden
  • Community Immersion: Live in your own magnificent Victorian home on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean on Ireland's rugged Northwest coast. Your home is cozy, quirky and quaint. Here you'll learn invaluable independence building skills with your peers!
  • Volunteer in the Community: Make a meaningful and positive impact on our community as you volunteer on farms, animal shelters, with local youth groups, Clean Coasts Ireland and other local organisations.
  • Develop your Leadership and Communication Skills: Our leadership workshops are fun, interactive and experiential. You'll learn much about yourself and others as you are challenged to work within a team on a wide range of projects.
  • The People: Irish people are amongst the freindliest and funniest people you'll come across anywhere and our gappers always love getting to know the locals. They're quirky sense of humor and unique outlooks on life won't disapoint!

Questions & Answers

Reviews

95%
based on 41 reviews
  • Housing 9.4
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 9.5
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9.8
Showing 16 - 30 of 41
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Fiona
10/10

Growing where the Grass Grows

As someone who had never been outside of the US, I was looking for a gap year program that challenged me, but gave me a strong group to support me when I needed it. Irish Gap Year was a perfect mix of challenging, exciting, and safe. I came away from my three month adventure not only having expanded my comfort zone beyond what I thought was possible, but, but having grown so much as an individual. Irish Gap Year gives you the necessary skills to be a functioning adult, but not only that, they show you have to take charge and accomplish what you never would have thought you could.
The program gave me the confidence to not only climb mountains do activities I would have shied away from before, but to lead the charge to a new adventure I may know nothing about. The program leaders and staff provided a constant wave of support and were always ready to talk or lead a hand if I needed it.

Irish Gap year was the most incredible way to spend three months.

How can this program be improved?
I wish we had worked more with animals
Yes, I recommend this program
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Ross
10/10

Irish gap year

It was truly a spectacular time. The staff are amazing and are willing to do whatever to make you feel better And make sure you have a fun time. The scenery is so unreal here and the house is located right in front of the beach. The locals are so nice. And the hike said we go on our truly breathtaking and make sure you have a fun time. The scenery is so unreal here and the house is located right in front of the beach. The locals are so nice. And the hikes we go on are truly breathtaking. I would totally be willing to do it again. I totally advise doing this program.

Yes, I recommend this program
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SEAMUS
8/10

Spring 18

I had a great time at Irish gap year I met new and different people and got to experience new things that you cant experience in the US. It was very cool to travel around the country and see different parts of history of Ireland and not just the good parts but also the bad times they have had really help you get a full picture of Irish history. I really enjoyed being outdoors as well and getting to see the different cities. All In all I had a great time in Ireland with Irish gap year and am sad it is over already.

How can this program be improved?
Way to call for food or cabs inside the house.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Conor
10/10

Adventure and Leadership Program

When I arrived in Ireland 3 months ago I really had no idea what to expect and I did not know what I wanted out of this program. the years leading up to this program were not easy for me. Early on in this program I struggled a lot to find my footing here in Ireland. Everyone here was so helpful from the beginning. I got familiar with all the leaders early on in this program ( Chris "burgers", Chris "socks", Matt, Ash, and Sara ) it was important to all of them that they did everything they could to make the transition from America to Ireland a smooth one. Another thing I really enjoyed was getting home cooked meals from Rita and Owen. I am happy I can bring a few recipes back with me. I was only in Ireland for 3 months but it seems like I was here a lot longer. We did so many fun and enriching activities including surfing, kayaking, and hiking just to name a few. My family is also from here so I learned a lot about the history of Ireland especially on the guided hikes and tours of the cities we visited. I met so many genuine people both locals and gap year students. I will miss this place very much and I am happy I was able to be a part of this program. I am confident in saying this trip has made a huge impact on my life and I have grown in many ways because of it. Thank You IGY.

How can this program be improved?
I think this program is nearly flawless.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Conall
10/10

Adventure, cultural immersion, and personal growth go hand-in-hand

I had always planned on taking a gap year before college, but figuring out how to spend it was a difficult process. In the end, I spent the first half working a job near home to get some money and work experience. For the second half, I wanted to travel overseas somewhere with a gap year program, one that, more specifically, provided opportunities for both adventure and community service. After a hefty amount of searching, I finally decided on Irish Gap Year. From what I had read about it, it seemed like the perfect program based on what I wanted to do. However, when I finally made it to Ireland and had settled in to the situation of living with 12 complete strangers in a mansion-like house near a small town known best for its surfing, I discovered that the gap year program I had chosen was far beyond what I initially thought. The myriad of activities, ranging from surfing, hiking, and first aid training, are extremely fun, offering up something new with everything we do. I mean, I wasn't expecting to drive an off-road jeep blindfolded, or ascend towering mountains in the biting cold. And even the less rigorous activities, such as designing a St. Patrick's Day parade float with a local youth group or touring the Guinness storehouse in Dublin, are very much enjoyable and bring a great balance of fun and cultural immersion. When I wasn't riding waves in the frigid Irish oceans or exploring the ruins of ancient castles, there was plenty of time to get to know my fellow "gappers", the people I was spending pretty much every day with for 3 months, and more than enough free time each week to do your own things, may it be hitting up the nearby pub for a pint or just lounging around the house after a long week of intense hikes and long bus rides. The program's leaders are mostly helpful and informative, all while giving gappers enough independence to learn how to take care of themselves and make crucial decisions. The format of the program, activities nearby one week, travel to somewhere else in the country the next, makes sure the experience is never boring and always has new and unique things to do. Lastly, adhering the program's motto of "Explore, discover, grow", there are seemingly endless chances to do just that. Explore a country you've never been to until now, discover ways that you can be a leader to your peers, grow and mature as a person who might have flown into Ireland nervous at first and left feeling like an entirely new person. With Irish Gap Year, not only was my criteria of adventure/service greatly met, but the overall experience was truly one-of-a-kind, and three extremely fun months that I will never forget. I had a blast, and I'm sure you will as well.

How can this program be improved?
1. Stronger WiFi in the house.
2. More heads-up for sudden schedule changes and logistical questions.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Gametime
8/10

What Conor Jones Thinks About Irish Gap Year

This was such a fantastic gap year for me because of Irish Gap Year. I loved all the activities so much and this was a great adventure for me. I discovered so much of myself and gained a lot of skills that you need to get somewhere in life. I learned a lot about myself and who I am and what kind of person I need to be. Through mountain hikes, surfing, laughing with friends and so much more, I've lived the adventure and made good friends. Thank you IGY.

How can this program be improved?
The house needs a landline. Desperately.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Abigail
9/10

Irish Gap Year Leadership and Adventure Program

I spent 12 weeks fully immersed in Irish culture through the Irish Gap Year Adventure and Leadership Program. Though I personally had some struggles from coming from being and only child to living with 12 other people, the program itself is life changing. I know that I will carry all of my memories I have made here with me for the rest of my life. I have learned about the new culture, the new people, and even learned some things about myself. I would recommend this gap year program to those who are considering it.

How can this program be improved?
This program can be improved by perhaps involving the gappers in some of the weekly schedules. That's more of a suggestion than improvment, though.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Zoe
10/10

IGY Review

I’ve previously experienced two international programs somewhat similar to the fall 2017 Irish Gap Year semester, and IGY far exceeded those programs and blew my expectations away.

IGY offered the best of of both worlds: both immersing yourself in another country while also learning different skills and exploring the country. The system of exploring different sites and cities in various ways, whether it was hiking, surfing or just checking out a cool historical site, while also having a cosy and welcoming home base in Bundoran worked very well. The program was a good balance of challenging myself to go out of my comfort zone while also not getting travel fatigue. It’s almost ridiculous how gorgeous all of the places we went to for hiking, camping and surfing were. Each of the leaders was very helpful and really helped to make this experience the best there could be.

For future gappers, don’t be afraid of asking questions or raising concerns. All of the leaders want the best for the gappers and if there is something you want to do or have a problem with, they are more than happy to help. Also don’t be afraid to talk to the locals, as some of the best moments on this trip for me were getting to know the people I was fortunate to be able to meet. Irish people are some of the friendliest (and funniest) people whom you will ever meet.

Overall, Irish Gap Year is such a fantastic experience, both growthful and fun, and one which I will treasure forever. The three months flew by so very quickly, as the program is very thoughtfully and flexibly planned out. Thank you so much to each and every one of the wonderful IGY staff!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Ella
10/10

My Irish Gap Year

As we drove from the airport to Bundoran on my first day, I was wrapped up in thoughts of what Ireland would bring to me and what I could bring to Ireland . I had pictured Ireland many times before as a child and every image that I had pictured beforehand was almost identical to what I could see from the window. The green rolling hills, the smell of cow manure in the air, and of course the strange fact that they drive on the other (wrong) side of the road. Though my fascination of the landscape continued, my mind began to wander elsewhere. I wondered if I had really made the right decision in flying across the world and spending the next three months in a different country with complete strangers. I was leaving my friends, my parents, my boyfriend, and my puppies. Of course I was scared, but I knew that there was no way I could give up on an opportunity like this. One of a lifetime. I will never forget my initial thoughts and fears during that three hour car ride. However, naturally, those fears have disappeared and I am now faced with new ones; am I making the right decision of going home?
Irish Gap Year has given me the greatest three months. I tried my best to go in with an open mind and no set expectations and by doing so I find that I have created the most positive outlook on this program and the amazing country that has hosted us all. I have seen some of the most incredible views on the planet. I have pushed myself to mental and physical extremes, and have come out happier than ever by doing so. I have been given the opportunity to immerse myself in a new culture and I have met some of the most amazing people in the world.
For you future gappers, it really doesn't rain as much as National Geographic may say. Don't be afraid to leave your loved ones behind, they will be so excited for you and proud that you have taken the opportunity to see the world. It may be hard at first, but you are surrounded by other students who care very much for you and you will have the support from many other resources. Irish Gap Year does a wonderful job of bringing leadership and adventure into their programs.
Push yourself to experience the amazing world around you.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Alexander
10/10

Amazing program

Words can not even begin to describe my experience. For the last nine weeks I have done things I never thought I would do, I have climbed mountains, surfed in the freezing waters of Ireland ocean, traveled far and wide across this beautiful land, formed bonds with the people here, this program has smashed through my expectations for it in the best way possible. I came here a somewhat overweight guy, expecting a lot of manual labor, long boring hikes and bland food, in short for this to be an Irish version of fat camp. In under a day of being here I had left those thoughts behind. I was enthralled by Ireland's beauty, the kids living in the awesome house were amazing, and the food is incredible, and they don't skip on the portions. The hikes we do take are always amazing, showing us Ireland's beauty. Though to my surprise I did in fact lose weight, hell, none of my pants fit me anymore!

I would have to say my favorite memory of this place would have to be liquid therapy, a program where we help young children with Aspergers learn to surf, a program I really wish had been around in the states when I was growing up. It was fun to teach a kid how to surf, and I've learned to love surfing here, there is nothing even close to the experience when you stand up on a board for the first time.

I would highly recommend this program to anyone, it's a once of a lifetime experience that is going to stay with me for the rest of my life.

How can this program be improved?
I don't know how, everything was perfect in my opinion.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Carter
10/10

Irish Gap Year

I'm glad I decided to spend my gap year in Ireland and with Irish Gap Year. Hiking, traveling, surfing, volunteering, and being surrounded by some of the friendliest leaders you'll ever meet made for a fulfilling 3 months. With lots of freedom as well as being a very flexible program, it's easy to bend the program a bit to fit the student. The program is a great opportunity to grow, meet new people and have lots of fun. I highly recommend it.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Shane
10/10

My Irish Gap Year Experience

I had a blast on this program. The staff are engaging, fun people who really care about the students. As students we were immersed in the local culture and community of Bundoran, Donegal, where we were based. The people of this area are really friendly and inviting, and since it is so safe the students are given a lot of freedom. The house is big and comfortable, located in a beautiful coastal area about 40 minutes walk from the town. While here we engaged regularly in outdoor activities such as surfing, kayaking, cliff jumping and hiking. We also volunteered with youth organizations and animal shelters and worked on an eco farm. I got to see more of Ireland than I ever thought I would in such a short period of time. We went on trips to really awesome parts of the country, from cities like Galway, Dublin and Belfast to scenic rural areas such as Clare, Kerry and Northern Donegal. I enjoyed the hikes we went on, especially climbing mountains. For instance we hiked to the top of Croagh Patrick in County Mayo and Mount Errigal in Donegal. My favorite walk was probably our hike along the cliffs of Moher in County Clare. I loved experiencing the traditional Irish food and music in places like Doolin. While on these trips we learned to work as a team and plan out our own activities.
The program leaders are very involved in the students lives we are here, though we are also encouraged to plan things ourselves and think independently. They are always asking questions and making sure we are having a good time. They are constantly working to improve the program and I think it will only get better and better. I highly recommend this program for anyone looking for an exciting cultural adventure in an beautiful country.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Michelle
10/10

It was LIT!!!!

If you like to be around good, friendly people, this is the program for you. If you like to go on adventures and trips but still live in a spacious, comfortable environment, once again this is the program for you. That’s just part of my experience with Irish gap year, over the course of three months I have tried many new things and challenged myself immensely. For example, I tried surfing and at first did not like it; at the beginning of this program I would dislike anything I wasn’t good at. One day one of the awesome surf instructors noticed I wasn’t enjoying myself in the water, he then motivated me to keep trying and he stayed by my side until I finally got up on my board! It was amazing and now I cannot only say I was able to stand up on a surfboard, but I really like surfing now. Learning about myself and facing my own challenges was only a portion of this trip. I was lucky enough to see many parts of Ireland; my personal favorite trip was going to the Cliffs ‘o’ Moher. The hike for that trip was really fun for me because we put in such much work and than got to stop and eat lunch in a really beautiful spot, which I really enjoyed. I also liked that we had opportunities to visit cities like Belfast and Dublin. Every trip we went on was absolutely amazing, and than after every trip having the luxury of returning to the very comfortable, spacious gap year house was just grand. I was at first hesitant to leave my home in the D.C. metro area and go all the way to Ireland because I had never lived away from home before, but I’m so glad I did it. I had all the amenities in the gap year house that I have at home, plus more! The house chef, Rida is awesome, I was well fed and after all my meals I liked to lounge on the big soft couches and enjoys my free time for the day. Free time is also another thing most people think about when they consider a program like this. The ratio of activities and free time is just right in this program. Overall I would recommend this program to anyone! Especially if you want to take a year off from school or don’t exactly know what further education to pursue, this is the right program for that. 10/10!!!

How can this program be improved?
This program is flawless.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Emily
10/10

My Irish Gap Year

I had a lot of fun as well as experiences to grow during this program. There were lots of outdoor adventures during the first half of the trip. We went on reflection hikes, where we were prompted to think about life on a deeper level. The second half we travelled a lot more.
Now, thinking back to when I was choosing my gap year, I would have wanted people to give me honest accounts of their time and constructive criticism of their programs, so I will. I guess my feedback for this program is that not everything is running one hundred percent smoothly yet. There are times when a lot of the plans are pretty wishy washy. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It is expected that this program is this way because it is a rather new program, and it just gives us students more of an opportunity to get involved.
Some of my favorite parts of this program were getting the chance to travel to different cities, meet the locals, and work on whitehill eco farm. I also really liked getting to know the staff involved. Everyone who works here really cares about the students and all are in it to make our time here valuable. I have grown so much here with the help of the staff involved.
If you choose this program, you won't be disappointed. There is something in it for everyone.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Lucrezia
9/10

Good Craic

I really enjoyed the past three months here, experiencing the Irish culture in different parts of the country and living in the town of Bundoran which is a nice little surfing town with great people. I liked our hikes, surfs, kayaking, couple camping trips, and day trips. The staff was supportive and did their best to make sure that we were all comfortable and satisfied.
Our trips were awesome! Visiting both city and countryside; I loved Galway and Doolin, the Cliffs of Moher were beautiful. I really liked how we had student led trips to Dublin and Kerry which both turned out nicely and we visited some cool places.
One thing that this program will help you learn is responsibility and prep you for living on your own or with a roommate. Living in a lovely two story house (Bundrowes House), where you're responsible for tidying up after yourself and looking after everything else. Outside the house there's a nice view of the Atlantic and the mountains and you can go exploring when theres free time. For example, there's a nice cliff walk that leads all the way to town.
We volunteered with a youth group organization on some nice projects like building a float and participating in the St. Patricks Day and cleaning up a beach. Also volunteered on a horse rescue farm, grooming the horses and getting them ready for their homes. We did help out on a farm planting lettuce and trees. Only thing is I wish we could have volunteered a little more.
Overall, this program was awesome and I would really recommend it on your year off. It has a pretty balanced structure with flexibility and freedom. I'm really glad I took this as my second gap year program because I feel a lot more prepared for college and having a roommate, living on our own. I'm going to miss this place and the great people I've met but I'll be back for sure in the next few years.

Yes, I recommend this program

About Irish Gap Year

Welcome to Irish Gap Year!
Explore. Discover. Grow.

Based in County Donegal (National Geographic's 'Coolest Place on Earth 2017), we have wild, untouched nature, unique culture and a rich artistic heritage on our doorstep.

Our semester-length, gap...