Staff Spotlight: Niall Coombes

Program Leader


Born and raised in the hills of Donegal, Niall has always had a passion for the outdoors. He will always take every opportunity to immerse himself in one of his many hobbies such as surfing or rock climbing or hiking. Ireland will always be his favorite place for any adventure.

What is your favorite travel memory?

I spent some time mountaineering in the swiss alps. The rewarding challenges and scenery are something that I won't soon forget. We spent our nights camping in a stunning valley near Saas Grund. We were staying at high altitudes and the lack of any light pollution at night meant that the night sky was lit up every night.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

By overcoming challenges I have grown in confidence. As we adjusted to the current covid situation I have gained valuable skills in adapting to the job to keep every student safe while still providing an exciting and engaging program. I have become a better leader by working with a variety of students from all walks of life.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

In one of our programs, we had a student return for an internship. They had such an amazing experience on their first gap year program with us that they had to return for a second time. I've recently learned that the same student plans to come to Ireland in the fall to attend college. It's great to hear that the people and culture here made such an impression on this student that they are taking every opportunity to come back.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

As somebody who is passionate about adventures in the Irish landscape I would pick the adventure and leadership program. We have world-class beaches for surfing and beautiful mountains for hiking right on our doorstep. The skills and experiences learned in this program will carry with you for the rest of your life.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Every member of the Irish Gap Year team brings a unique set of skills to learn from. The staff really goes above and beyond to make each student's experience here memorable. I was especially proud of the team over the past year as we overcame and adapted to the issues relating to the Covid 19 pandemic.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I believe the biggest factor is to plan ahead and prepare. By having a well-constructed program and having a detailed itinerary for each day planned then all the staff is on the same page which leads to a frictionless workday. Having good communication between the staff is crucial to maintaining a successful company.