Irish Gap Year

Irish Gap Year

About

Irish Gap Year operates semester length and short gap year programs in Ireland, Scandinavia and Europe.

Being based on the northwest coast of Ireland in County Donegal has instilled in us a love of adventure, untouched nature, unique culture, rich artistic heritage and travel - All of which are foundational to our gap year programs. Our programs are highly immersive and designed to help your explore yourself and Europe in a fun, safe and supportive environment with your peers.

* 2021's ' #1 Top Gap Year Program Provider on Go Overseas' as voted by students.
* Europe's only Gap Year Association accredited program provider.
* Award winning programs in amazing European destinations.
* A student-centered company run by authentic adventures, artists and seasoned travelers.
* Experienced and retained team of professional program leaders.
* The perfect balance of student support and freedom to learn to live independently.
* Excellent safety record.

Founded
2015

Reviews

Default avatar
Ben
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Adventure and Leadership IGY

Deciding to go on this trip was one of the best decisions of my life. I got everything I wanted and more out of this program. I didn’t think that it would be as much fun as it was. You get to see such beautiful spots in Ireland some that you wouldn’t even think would exist. While I was here on our student led trip we visited the Muckross house and saw some 10,000 year old great Irish elk antlers. I also found some friends that I’ll never forget. If you’re on the edge of going on a gap year jdoit

Pros
  • People
  • Food
  • Activities
Cons
  • Dishes
  • Getting in trouble
  • No weed
Default avatar
Zeph
4/5
Yes, I recommend this program

IGY Arts and Culture

I had a lot of fun while here. I got to try a lot of new things artistically that I had never done before and the staff here was very nice and helpful. I'm very happy I was in Ireland for this fall.

Pros
  • I made a lot of art while here
  • Ireland is very beautiful
Cons
  • The food isn't always the best
Default avatar
Bulyn
4/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Great experience

Such a great once in a lifetime experience that not many have done! I loved bonding with the other members of the program and the social scene at night! Trying out new kinds of art really broadened my perspective and interests that I haven’t looked into before. The leaders are great and have amazing interactions with us. I personally came a few weeks late to the program but everyone was super welcoming and I feel as if I fit in right away with the other members. I would definitely recommend this program to others and love to experience it again if I could.

Pros
  • Traveling all over Ireland
  • Such fun social life both at night and during the day
  • Building art skills and having fun!
Cons
  • food is bland
  • Having 2 roomates instead of 1 or none
  • Shower is not strong and sometimes doesn’t get hot enough
Default avatar
Yelena
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing gap year experience!

This whole experience was incredible for me- I made many close friends on this trip, and have explored the use of different artistic mediums that I never would’ve had the chance to experiment with beforehand. The tutors were all so friendly and helpful with whatever I needed help with, and I have learned so much more about Irish culture and art from their guidance. I would absolutely recommend this program to anyone who wants to step out of their comfort zone and have a meaningful time surrounded by incredible group leaders and friends.

Pros
  • Very friendly people
  • Strengthening my art skills
  • Kate
Cons
  • Hot water in shower wouldn’t work at first
  • Some food wasn’t great
Default avatar
Keira
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Arts and Culture

Choosing the Irish Arts and Culture program was the best decision I could have made for my gap year experience. I improved my art in ways I couldn’t have even dreamed of and even more importantly I made the friends of a life time. I will never forgot this experience. The program leaders are funny, helpful, and extremely caring, any little problem that arose which were very few they helped solve before there was even a chance for it to truly become a real problem. If I was able I would honestly do this program again.

Pros
  • Beautiful Scenery
  • The nicest of people
  • Tons of Art
Cons
  • Bland Irish Seasoned Food

Programs

Displaying 1 - 5 of 5

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Robert Trent Schwab

Trent is a 19-year-old from New England. He has grown up in the suburbs and had not had much travel experience prior to his time in Ireland.

Why did you choose this program?

I knew I wanted to spend part of my gap year abroad, preferably in an English speaking country. After doing some research, I found Irish Gap Year. Irish Gap Year was very well organized and helpful throughout the entire process, answering every question I had and providing me with all the information necessary regarding my living situation and internship.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Irish Gap Year arranged me with an excellent host family and a great internship position. In addition, they were extremely helpful throughout my entire stay. All of my train tickets and hostel arrangements for trips on the weekends were handled by Irish Gap Year, which made my traveling experiences stress-free.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Pack a rain jacket or umbrella every day, no matter what the forecast predicts. The weather in Ireland is extremely unpredictable, and while it does not usually pour, there are usually light rain showers for at least 15 minutes a day. In addition, it's also worth packing a few extra layers, as it can get windy/chilly.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

My workday began at 10AM and ended around 3:30PM. Usually, I would take a train into the city center after work (approx. 15 minutes away) and either grab some food, run errands, or check out a museum if I had time. During my free weekends in Dublin, I was able to explore all over the city, visiting all of the essential tourist destinations and finding some of my personal favorite pubs, restaurants, and locations.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I was initially worried about how well I would be able to adapt to life in a city, as I live in the suburbs in the US and have not had a huge amount of experience in an urban setting. However, after I arrived, I realized that, while Dublin is a big city with a lot to offer, it is also very manageable to navigate and live in. Everything is for the most part within a walking distance, and I had no trouble finding my way around after the first week.

What is one small difference about Ireland that caught you by surprise?

Many of the apps and services I use on my phone in the U.S. weren’t as popular in Ireland. Rather than using iMessage, WhatsApp is much more popular in Europe. In addition, Uber is not nearly as popular in Dublin. While these are by no means big dilemmas, it can take a little while to get used to using the alternatives.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Fran Duffy

Job Title
Program Leader
Outdoors Instructor and Trainer with a keen interest in volunteering.
Fran Duffy, Program Leader, Irish Gap Year

What is your favorite travel memory?

Swimming in the Atlantic Ocean!
During the summer myself and my family enjoy traveling around Ireland on short camping trips. We always try to visit and experience new places. In 2020 we visited a campsite in Donegal near Downings. We didn't know what to expect but when we arrived we thought it was beautiful! Set on a hillside overlooking an amazing sandy beach with rolling hills across the bay. I ran straight down and jumped into the clear blue ocean. It was amazing!!

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

I have met some really interesting people who have come on our gap programs and I feel I learn a lot from them as they go on their Gap Journey. I have learned to support the students while still allowing them space to develop their own independence and sometimes this can challenging as every individual is different.

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

I spoke to one of our return students who took part in our Adventure and Leadership Program and came back the next year to do the Irish Arts and Culture Program. They were very inspired by their experience and wanted to become an adventure photographer which combined learning from both programs. it was lovely to see a young person gaining confidence and inspiration from what we do at Irish Gap Year.

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

I would choose Adventure and Leadership because I really enjoy the outdoors and always want to have new and exciting experiences. I think the Leadership element is especially beneficial to our students and had I had the opportunity to take part in such a program when i was younger I feel i would have grown in confidence at a young age.

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

Irish Gap Year is a unique company because we offer two very different programs. I feel the Irish Arts and Culture Program in particular is a great course to take part in as the students get the best of both worlds by traveling and exploring Ireland and also develop their creativity with the many different workshops.

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

I feel that teamwork and strong communication is the most important element of a successful company. If you trust and respect each other as colleagues then you will have success. Lastly, an important element of success is pre-planning and organizing, this way everyone has a clear idea of what is expected of them.

Professional Associations

Gap Year Association Logo
USA Gap Year Fairs Logo