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 31 - 41 of 41
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Indigo
9/10

Grand time in the Emerald Isle

Definitely do this program if you get the chance! The staff and everyone involved throughout the program are some of the best people you will meet. They are encouraging, passionate about the program and Ireland, very funny, and caring. Plus, you get to do a variety of activities with them, such as surfing, hiking, camping on an island, traveling around most of the country, volunteering at different places, and other fun things! For the first half of the program especially, I couldn't believe how much we got to do and see. They keep you busy, but there is also enough free time to be at Bundrowes House/the Gap Year House or go into Bundoran (the small town nearby) which is about a 40 minute walk from the house --I recommend walking along the cliffs/seaside. The program is flexible and works around the students' interests, which I think is very important. If you want to go somewhere or do something, they usually make it work. This program allows you to advocate for yourself, become more independent, and see what it is like to have more responsibilities. [[[[
I loved being able to travel around the country, see historical sights, and some of most beautiful places in the world (in my opinion). We had two week-long student led trips at the end of the program and also went on a good deal of other short trips around the country. There was a good balance between city trips and trips focused more on outdoor activities. The staff is always open to things you may want to do or explore on these trips, so make sure to research beforehand and let them know. This was one of my favorite parts of the program, although it was always nice to return home (Bundrowes House) after a few nights away. You will find that Bundrowes House really does start to feel like your second home! The house is very spacious and comfortable and has great views from all sides. You cook breakfast, sometimes lunch, and a group led meal or two throughout the week. You get to experience what it is like to live with awesome roommates, which makes it even better. There are a lot of great memories in this house!
I am so sad to be leaving in a couple days, but I can't wait to come back and visit. Now, I have so many connections here. There is a great sense of community here within the program, and I liked how the staff also helped you get to know more of the Bundoran community. Come be a part of it yourself! You will enjoy it for sure!

How can this program be improved?
Personally, I did not think that my leadership skills improved so that is one area that could be changed, but I know they are working on ways to improve it for the next program. We also did not do as much volunteer work as I thought we would. We volunteered at a variety of organizations which was nice, but I would have liked some of the volunteering to be more regularly scheduled. The staff is very open to suggestions and will fix any problems along the way. I was only on the second cohort of this program, so I know it will only get better from here, and it is already really awesome!!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Mary
9/10

Galway Girl :)

Right when I left my hometown for my second program of my Gap year, Ed Sheeran's new song Glaway Girl had just hit the charts. I couldn't help but tell my friends how they will have a true Galway Girl in their midst when I returned in three months. I had always wanted to visit the Emerald Isle, however, had never had the chance until I stumbled across Irish Gap Year through my Gap year counselor. The program was awesome! I loved the adventure activities that we got to partake in every day! I now can say that I am basically a pro surfer, kayaker, hiker and various out outdoor activities that our group leaders specialize in. The staff was incredibly supportive, every member wanted to make sure that we were comfortable and happy. I built a ton of strong relationships with mentors on this program, and I can't wait to come back to Ireland in a few years. Considering that the program is newish (this being the first year running Gap programs) there were some little quirks in the program days, like getting too much free time one day, or the schedule changing around a bit. But the directors and leaders loved to hear our feedback and what the students preferred to do. This makes the program more flexible and totally worked around the students. It was the perfect mix of scheduled time and flexible hours. One of the coolest parts of the experience was that we got to plan trips to all around Ireland, and visit the most famous and beautiful sites along the way! I feel like Ireland is now my second home, and it is sad that I can't stay longer.
We did some volunteering as well on the program. We worked with the national youth organization on a ton of cool projects. For example, we had the chance to be in a St. Patrick's Day parade, in Ireland. That was pretty cool. We also worked with a horse rescue, and we were able to help prepare the horses for their new homes. However, we did not do as much volunteering as I would have liked, but Irish Gap Year is still building those strong relationships with foundations.
One thing that this program is awesome for is learning how to live on your own and getting along with roommates. Each student who lives in the lovingly dubbed "Gap Year House" by many of the locals, has a roommate in an amazing room overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Students are in charge of making themselves breakfast and lunch sometimes, as well as student planned meals once or twice a week. It had really helped me to learn how to live a healthy and frankly "adult" lifestyle. And now I feel even more prepared to go to college and room with someone else!
Overall loved it, and would r8 8/8 m8.

How can this program be improved?
This program is new, so obviously it should be taken into consideration. But one thing that I would have loved to have was a bit more of a concrete schedule that shows everything we would have done, then have that be up to flexibility. It would have been nice to know all that was included in the 12 weeks at the beginning of the program.
Yes, I recommend this program
Camden
10/10

Why Irish Gap Year should be a part of your Gap Year

Hi my name is camden. I'm an 18 year old from Plymouth Minnesota. I'm part of Irish Gap year because I decided it would be a better idea for me to take some time off before going to college/university. And when it came to picking the destination I knew Ireland was the place for me! As a little kid it was my dream to go visit Ireland and it has come true. What sealed my decision was when I had the skype interview with Killian the program leader. When I had my interview with him I had many many questions and every question was answered. What was even better was the fact that Killian wanted to get to know me for who I really was during the interview to see if I'd be a good fit for the program. My biggest concern about going to Ireland was being away from my family for a long period of time. But as the time has gone on at Irish Gap Year I see them as my family away from home. Having people like Ryan, Karl, Granea "Fox", Killian, Caitriona, and Rita made everything more comfortable for me while being in Ireland. These people are all genuine, honest to good, caring, and understanding people. Everyone at this program has their own characteristics that they bring to the table and that's what makes every activity unique. There have been multiple different volunteering projects that Irish Gap Year has helped us be a part of. Some of that volunteering time was spent on WhiteHill Eco farm helping them with the process of planting and foraging the produce that hey grow in their property. The people of WhiteHill are amazing and they are people who you'd want to surround yourself with just like everyone at Irish Gap Year. The other big volunteering project we were a part of was the non profit organization known as Liquid Therapy. Liquid Therapy gave us the opportunity to take kids which different spectrums of Autism and Social anxiety surfing. There were many friendships made among the Students (Gappers) and the kids we got to take surfing. Irish Gap Year Also got us to be a part of Fróige which is a program to promote teens mental health. This program was very eye opening to know that there are so many people out there that want to help younger kids with mental health issues. And what's even better is that we got to participate in the activities the kids were doing which made that day more memorable. Overall Irish Gap Year is hands down one of the best programs you could be a part of. I have learned so much about myself from the leadership aspect of the program. Also the adventure part is something you're going to have to find out for yourself. So come on, come join the fun at Irish gap year and find out what the adventures are because I promise you once you find out what they are, you will be glad you came!

Thanks for reading,

Camden Caron

How can this program be improved?
I don't see anything that needs to change other than an outline being handed out each week if the itinerary for that weeks activities
Yes, I recommend this program
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Charlotte
10/10

Irish gap year Adventure & Leadership Program

Hey my name is Charlotte and I strongly suggest you to sign up for this program. This program has just enough structor and just enough flexibility to make it perfect to change around things if you like doing certain things but not others, while also giving enough structor so you feel like your time is full and not stressful. It has an even amount of out door activities,city life and volunteer work to make sure your time is well spent here. Since I arrived on this program it has been full of new experiences and great memories to take with me back home. My favorite charity we got to work with would definitely have to be Liquid Therapy, this is an organization where we got to teach autistic kids how to surf.To prepare for the program the gappers spent a whole three weeks or so learning how to surf, because everyone who arrived in the program had no clue how to surf. It ended up to be much easier then we thought and was just a bunch of fun. So by the time we needed to teach the kids we were completely ready and excited. Through the lessons we all really got to connected with the kids, I only wish we had a couple more lessons with the kids because it was just so fun. other organizations we worked with were very community based like: organic fruit farm, painting a community center, community garden.
We did a bunch of out door activities as well like: sea kayaking, surfing, hiking, outdoor rock climbing, camping and supping. I loved all of them but I thought the hikes were a bunch of fun. We got to see a lot of different and interesting places. Like caves, islands, forests, ancient ruins and huge beautiful mountains. One of my favorite hikes would definitely have to be the Cliffs of Moher because we got to walk to these huge cliffs and sit by the edge and take in one of the most beautiful views in the world. All in all this program was amazing and exciting and The staff was super kind, trust worthy and helpful. They also through the whole trip made sure your experience was exactly what you wanted to make of it.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Matthew
9/10

Amazing Experience

Overall my time with irish gap year was fantastic and incredibly memorable. Living with the same people for long periods of time can be very difficult depending on who those people and how you act, however irish gap year's staff did every thing in their power to ensure relations remained friendly and never hostile. Nevertheless, with this many strangers in the same house, problems are somewhat likely to ensue, especially if the inhabitants aren't accustomed to living without a lot of family help and/or cleaning up after themselves (being adaptable goes a long way). With that being said, I still had an amzing time during the program and befriended many of my fellow housemates. The trips and adventures orchestrated by the program were very interesting and quite exhilarating; I have no doubt that I have made many amazing memories during my time in Ireland thanks to irish gap year. I found the hikes to be extremely fun and breathtaking (although sometimes strenuous), and the trips to other cities very cultural while also impeccably fun. The cliffs Moher were by far one of the most stunning things I've ever seen and the small city of galway was some of the most fun I've ever had. I found the leadership course to be very educational and I feel as though my social and leadership skills have improved because of it. The course also created an environment where teamwork was crucial which improved my team building skills through various exercises and activities. We did a lot of volunteering which was always very rewarding and lead us to meet very interesting people. In my opinion the town of Bundoran is fantastic; big enough to have night life and be able to meet new people around the town throughout the whole program, and small enough to quickly become acquainted and give a very homey feel. The house itself is quite large and very very old/historical but I assure that there are no malevolent spirits lurking around (joke). I know that I will always cherish my time in Ireland and that it was made so memorable because of the amazing staff of Irish gap year. I highly recommend this program for anyone looking for an amazing adventure, a great chance to learn important life skills, a chance to get a feel for independence, and last but not least, an opportunity for unbelievable fun.

Yes, I recommend this program
Molly
9/10

Irish Gap Year

Irish Gap Year was a great choice for me. The program was a good balance of structure with freedom and flexibility. I really appreciated how the group leaders were understanding when downtime was needed and accommodating when I wanted to do certain activities. Everyone involved, our day-to-day leaders especially, was positive and kind and helpful, I got to know some truly amazing people on this trip.
Bundrowes House is large and very nice, though living with eight other teenagers can have its challenges. Bundoran is a very cute little town, though very quiet.
The adventures and activities have been very cool, rock climbing was the most terrifying experience of my life and it was awesome, learning to surf was so much fun despite the cold. We went on loads of cool hikes, ranging in difficulty from short hikes on paths to day long treks.

How can this program be improved?
The program didn't always run smoothly, but as a program just starting out I thought they handled and adapted to issues pretty well.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Katherine
10/10

An Amazing 3 Months in Ireland

My Irish Gap Year experience has been exciting, surprising, and the opportunity I was looking for to reflect on my gap year. Eight other students and I were the first ones to experience this brand-new program. Despite the perceived risks of jumping into uncharted territory, our program leaders adapted along the way to meet and even exceed our needs.

The House and Bundoran: Students in Irish Gap Year live in a huge, beautiful 2-story house from the late 19th century. The house was one of my favorite parts of the trip; we might go off on road trips or camping trips, but when we'd get back it was always a cozy safe haven with plenty of space for everyone to have alone time and recharge. That being said, gap year students don't usually get a whole house to themselves for a 3-month program, and sharing a house for the first time has its challenges.

Bundoran is a very small town of just a few thousand people, and a lot of its economy is based around surf tourism. At the beginning of our trip in September, there were tons of tourists from around Ireland and abroad coming into town who we got to hang out with at band performances at the surf school and in the local pubs. In November, the temperature dropped and there were suddenly a lot fewer social opportunities in Bundoran. That's one thing to keep in mind about winter here.

Did you know that Bundoran is one of the best towns for surfing on Europe? Imagine waking up, pulling on a wetsuit, and hopping on a land rover that takes you to a pristine beach with endless, clean waves. After a couple hours of surfing, you refuel with tea and digestives at the surf school. That was me about 20 times on this trip!

Instructors: The instructors for this program were incredible. They were positive, experienced, and easy to talk to. One time, they drove us to a village in the middle of Nowhere, Ireland and searched by foot for an abandoned castle ruin because they had heard it was the family castle of one of the students in our group. They also gave us a level of freedom that we, in some cases, had never experienced before. I am so happy we got to plan our 4-day trip to Cork and our 3-day trip to Dublin. They even gave us the freedom to have two alcoholic drinks whenever we're out, something that shows their trust in their students and sets Irish Gap year apart from other programs.

Activities: From surfing, cliff diving, ocean kayaking, and "hikes" that required us to climb up a mountain on all fours, to museum-going, willow sculpting, our indoor leadership class, and chill hikes, we did the whooole spectrum of activities.

One activity that was really special to me was volunteering with Liquid Therapy, an organization that teaches autistic children how to surf. I was paired with Annabel, a nine year old who was so thrilled to go surfing that we were always the first ones into the ocean. I spent five days with Annabel pulling her into waves on her board, cheering her on when she caught them, chatting with her about life, and sometimes playing games with her like seeing how long she could stand on her board in still water. It was incredible seeing her progression and getting to make a strong connection with a new person in Ireland. At the end of Liquid Therapy, the Irish Gap Year students threw a party for the kids and their parents at our house!

I would recommend this trip to everyone. I would especially recommend this trip to anyone who knows they want a structured program, yet a program that gives its participants a good-sized dose of independence and freedom to take their trip into their own hands.

How can this program be improved?
It's hard to say how this program could be improved because it has already evolved so much in just the past three months that the problems we have faced on this trip will be nonexistent for the next program. There's going to be a small bus solely for Irish Gap Year which will eliminate occasional scheduling issues with the buses we've been borrowing from the surf school. IGY students will also get a shed of wetsuits just for them, instead of borrowing them from the surf school.

I'm bummed that I didn't get to volunteer with elderly people and record their stories on this trip. I understand that with everything we were doing, all those cool activities that came up as surprises (example: Halloween surf competition with costumes!) it makes sense we would eventually become over scheduled. I also missed my one opportunity on this trip to go supping, or stand up paddle boarding, before it got a bit too cold.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Elizabeth
9/10

3 Months in Ireland!

I have really enjoyed my time on the Irish Gap Year Adventure and Leadership program. All of the leaders are really kind and genuine people, and very attentive to our needs and wanting to make sure we’re getting the most out of the program. As someone who eats gluten free, all the leaders are very helpful in making sure my dietary restrictions are met. If there was ever a problem or challenge I was facing, I felt totally comfortable bringing it up and asking any one of my leaders for help. It’s a very good program for people (like myself) who are not overly outdoorsy but would like to be, because it allows you to explore nature and try new things in an all inclusive, ‘nobody gets left behind’ kind of way. I have been able to push myself physically in this program through surfing and hiking and I’ve really enjoyed all the adventures I’ve had with both. One of my favorite memories was a day when we went on a sunset surf, the sky was pink behind the rolling green cliffs and the ocean was like glass as the waves rushed toward us. It was an unforgettable sight and experience. We also did a lot of volunteer work in the local communities, and one of the highlights for me was helping a local youth group build a garden. I've loved being able to explore big cities like Galway and Dublin, we saw everything from museums to universities and authentic Irish pubs. I especially liked Galway, and hope to go back there as much as I can in the future. Overall I'd say this is a very worthwhile program that has helped me to figure out a bit more what I want and where I'm going, and allowed me to fall in love with a new country and culture along the way! Would definitely recommend it to anyone thinking of doing a Gap Year.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Liam
10/10

Irish Gap Year

I've truly enjoyed my time in Ireland over the past three months. I have learned how to surf, gone on many hikes, and made many new friends here. I never thought I would enjoy being as active as I am here. I wasn't such an outdoors person before but now I know that going surfing and pushing myself on hikes makes me happy. My goal when I first started this trip was to feel more ready for college, and although I don't feel completely ready I can say I've grown up a lot from all the new experiences I have had.

Yes, I recommend this program
Sophia
9/10

An Authentic Irish Experience

I came to Ireland after already being out of high school for a year, spending my previous gap year on an academic program in England and two culturally immersive volunteer programs in both Asia and South America, so when it came time for me to search for my next program, I had a clear picture of what I wanted. To be in a long-term group setting, to live in one place but still take trips and explore my surroundings. To be active and outdoors, but I also wasn't looking for something too extreme. I wanted balance, something that would be good for someone who wouldn't call themselves "athletic" or "outdoorsy." I wanted to be pushed out of my comfort zone, but not too far out! Irish Gap Year seemed to fulfill all of my requirements, and thus far it has met my expectations, and even surpassed some of them! For the first two months of the program we went out surfing at least two-to-three times a week, more if you were really keen! And we usually included two hikes every week exploring the beauty that is Northwestern Ireland. We also ventured out of our little bubble into the wider Ireland, taking three day trips into places like Dublin, Galway, and Belfast, a nice break from small town living especially as the weather turned and it was no longer pleasant for the more "outdoorsy" portion of the program. You get a full picture of Ireland and its people, who, by the way, are five-star. Our leaders too are amazing, easy to talk to and come with a wealth of experience, and are truly amazing people to learn from and get to spend three months with. The town of Bundoran is small, very small. During the summer season and all through September and October this was not a problem as it is a popular surf and outdoor destination. It is therefore full of new and exciting people to keep the town's vibe young and vibrant and your Friday and Saturday pub night's interesting! But as the good weather passed so did most of the tourists, and weekends in Bundoran grew slower. But fear not! Our program leaders allowed for the schedule to be flexible, so if we needed a change of scene, they wouldn't hesitate to see our needs met, sometimes taking us out of town for the weekend, etc. Living in a house with eight other 18 year-old's is been interesting to say the least, and is just as complicated as it should be expected. Kitchen and bathroom habits will always be a point of contention! Living with the same people and doing all of my activities with the same people was, for a self-admitted loner, a challenge, but all in all has taught me many valuable lessons and is not something I regret, no matter how difficult or out of my comfort zone it was. The leaders do try to help in this regard, they are attentive to the needs of both the individual and the group. As one of the guinea pigs in their first gap year program, I can honestly say that the program has been a success and I would whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone interested in signing up for it in the future.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Noah
8/10

Irish Gap Year Review

It was a great program that was plenty of fun. If you enjoy adventure this a great program for you. It has a large focus on surfing while also doing other activities. Since it is a new program there are some issues since they have to sort out the kinks; however, as a guinea pig for this group it was definitely worth it. They are improving the program day by day as the learn from their mistakes. The staff is great and friendly and will easily adapt to your needs.

How can this program be improved?
I think it will improve in time when they have more experience with running it. Yet they have been improving day by day and learning from their experiences.
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...