Irish Gap Year

Irish Gap Year

Why choose Irish Gap Year?

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.


Diversity & Inclusion

BIPOC Support

We welcome students from all walks of life and backrounds and have hosted many BIPOC students on our programs.

LGBTQIA+ Support

We welcome students from all walks of life and backrounds and have hosted many LGBTQIA+ students over the years. Ireland and Europe in general are quite progressive with regards to LGBTQIA+ policy, lifestyle and support. Irish Gap Year provides support to our LGBTQIA+ students to help them feel secure and safe during their time with us.



Irish Gap Year is a Carbon Negative Company, meaning we remove more C02 from the amosphere through our ecological volunteering than we create as an organization (including student flights to Europe).

Irish Gap Year Director, Ryan Allen is the Chair of the Gap Year Association's Sustainability Commitee and created the Association's Climate Action Plan in 2023.


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Yes, I recommend this program

This program was a great experience for me :)

This program was very beneficial for me. I was part of the arts and culture program here. One of the biggest values I got from this experience was that it ended up being very mentally refreshing for me, which was something I needed after feeling burned out from high school. I knew that I wanted to take a gap year between high school and college, and when I found this program it seemed like a good fit, as it offered a program centered around culture and art and creativity, all things I am passionate about and wanted to feel a renewed sense of motivation towards after graduating. In all honesty, going into the program, I knew it sounded like something I might enjoy, but I wasn't entirely confident in how the experience would play out, and how fulfilling it would be, until I actually got here and was able to live it out. I feel that I met a lot of my personal goals for myself here. I’m my experience, the art tutors here are all had something unique to offer and they pushed me to create art in ways I hadn’t before. I have made a lot of work I’m very proud of here, and they are a large reason for that. Another reason was the group and the friends I made here, who created an environment that felt lighthearted, welcoming, and not high-stress. It was nice to be able to try so many avenues of creativity without having to worry about how my work would translate into a grade. It made me feel much more motivated to create art than I had in academic settings in the past. Overall, I reccomend checking this program out. I had a very positive experience here, and I feel that it’s helped me to push my independence, make great friendships, and grow my skills in art.

  • I’ve created a lot of art work here that I’m very proud of, as I feel like the art tutors here really pushed me to do my best work.
  • I’ve made some really great friendships through this experience.
  • Bundoran is such a beautiful place to be based, I really enjoyed living here for 3 months.
  • I wish we’d had a bit more time in the program overall, especially after the expo, maybe a couple more free days to decompress after the big exhibition.
  • It’s sad to leave really good friendships you make while here. Definitely Bittersweet.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Irish Gap Year - Arts & Culture 2023

I got a lot from the time that I spent in Ireland while being a part of this program. I got the opportunity to see some of the coolest historical sites & most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The social atmosphere was a mix, fortunately I got along really well with my housemates, but that was not necessarily a universal experience across all the houses. I met some people I really love, but there was a period of adjustment in the first few weeks as I realized that not everyone across both programs came here for similar reasons as I did. It all works out if you find your people and stay focused on what you want to do. I would recommend the arts program to anyone who enjoys painting and drawing, or doesn’t necessarily know which medium is their favorite yet. I enjoyed working with all of the arts tutors and got a lot from the workshops, though as someone who doesn’t prefer to focus on painting and drawing, I was disappointed I did not get more opportunities to work in other mediums. Going into this program having been to college I think made the living away from home/sharing spaces with roommates easier, it seemed to be harder for others just out of high school. I think this experience could be good practice for people who aren’t used to those settings. I entered this experience spontaneously and with no expectations, and looking back at my time here, I can say that I’m very glad I chose to last minute go on academic leave and fly to Ireland. I will take the lessons I learned here+places I went+friends I made with me for a long time.

  • insanely beautiful nature and landmarks
  • space to be an individual, away from familiar places/routines/people
  • friends🫶
  • more painting and drawing focused
  • social atmosphere is a bit of a toss up
  • Ireland is not known for their food, and rightfully so
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Yes, I recommend this program

Great program

Irish Gap Year is a really well run and designed program that cultivates a sense of both independence and community.
I spent three months making art under the guidance of very talented professionals, all while developing relationships with my peers (who were all very talented artists), and learning how to live away from home. I’m sure the adventure part is great too.
There is also such a sense of kindness and support. Moments of stress were well handled, and creative solutions were figured out when needed.
A really great balance of structured and free time, and the overall stunning Irish landscapes, really helped this program shine.

  • Art based
  • Community building
  • Accessible to all skill levels
  • Prepare for wet cold weather
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Yes, I recommend this program

IGY 2023 fr fr

I had a great time in the Irish Gap Year Arts and Culture program. The program location, right on the sea, is stunning and very inspiring as an artist. It was refreshing to come to Bundrowes House and work on art during the workshop days. The artist mentors were all incredibly nice, I worked the most with Anna Leask and Michael Wann but all of the mentors are some of my favorite people. I have improved on my skills while being here, and learned new mediums and techniques. I have made connections in this program that I hope to keep throughout the rest of my life. If you are considering joining this program be sure to be prepared for the Irish weather, even though you are inside a lot of the time in the fall and winter Bundrowes House is an old building so the cold is felt inside. I was thankful to have a light scarf even on the warmer days.

  • Beautiful location for workshops
  • Incredible mentors, they’re all very kind and intelligent people
  • Fellow gap year students were such great people and I can’t wait to see how they grow
  • Some scheduling hiccups which the company is working through
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Yes, I recommend this program

Gwiddy Committee Review

I really enjoyed my experience in Ireland and Bundoran and personally felt that the program helped me to grow a lot as an artist and an individual. I have never really experienced a group of people where I felt that I have meshed with all of them outside of my family. Spending time and getting to know other artists and creative people really helped to get rid of my artist block and explore different ways of thinking and creating. Getting to know all sorts of people from both the arts and adventure and leadership programs was a big positive part of my experience as I was able to become close with people who are drawn to different things and who have vastly different mindsets. Being able to travel all over the Irish countryside and visit a couple of big Irish cities really helped me to get to know the country and the people here, as well as gave me an opportunity to have a window into the way Irish people live. Overall I had an amazing experience in Ireland and with Irish Gap Year.

  • Friends :)
  • Travel
  • New Art


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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

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