Irish Gap Year

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 year programs and internships are highly immersive and designed to help your explore yourself and Ireland in a fun, safe and supportive environment.

So, what makes Irish Gap Year unique?

*Our Gap Year programs: Adventure & Leadership or Irish Arts & Culture - Whether you're an outdoorsy type or more artistically inclined, we have a semester length, group program for you.
*We are community based: This means you'll have your own cozy home in our quaint town to manage with your fellow gappers.
*Support and Freedom: Our students enjoy the perfect balance of support from our team and freedom to live independently.
*We are Irish: Explore all things Irish as we welcome you with open arms into our community and culture.

Slan go Foill!


Upcoming Events

  1. Sat 30 October
    Spring Program Information Session

    In this webinar we will provide an overview of our Spring '22 gap year programs and host a questions and answers session for participants.

    10:00 AM (PDT) - 11:00 AM (PDT)
    Hosted By:
    Irish Gap Year
  2. Sun 28 November
    Spring Programs Info Session

    In this webinar we will provide an overview of our Spring '22 gap year programs and host a questions and answers session from participants.

    9:00 AM (PST) - 10:00 AM (PST)
    Hosted By:
    Irish Gap Year
  3. Sun 28 November
    European Explorer Information Session

    Learn more about our 4 week European Explorer Program taking place in May/June '22. This program travels by train from Amsterdam to Berlin to Prague to Austria and finally to Northern Italy and Venice.

    5:00 PM (PST) - 6:00 PM (PST)
    Hosted By:
    Irish Gap Year


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Yes, I recommend this program

Irish Gap Year Arts and Culture Program

I am so glad that I decided to join Irish Gap Year! The experience exceeded my expectations. The housing is gorgeous, the staff are so friendly and lead the group responsibly while still allowing participants a lot of freedom and independence. We learned to make bog oak jewelry, paint with watercolor, and draw with charcoal from amazing local artists. We were given time to explore Dublin, Belfast, and Galway, as well as witness the spectacular landscapes of Ireland, from mountains to forests to rocks to oceans. I learned so much about Ireland's illustrious history and I am already hoping to return as soon as possible!

What was your funniest moment?
We were surprised by an unusual heatwave during our first week of the program -- gone was the familiar grey and rainy Irish weather, replaced by intense sweat-inducing sun. After a wonderful workshop in leatherwork (we made gorgeous wallets by hand, embossed with a Celtic design), we were so hot we went and jumped into the nearby river for some sweet sweet relief. The neighboring horses stopped by to say hello!
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Yes, I recommend this program

Best summer ever

I had such an amazing time. I had the best housemates and the staff was so respectful and kind. I felt like I had a family with everyone and enjoyed every workshop I did as part of the arts and culture and loved the pieces I made in them. I’ve never been happier and felt more accepted in a place and I made friends that will last a lifetime. The inside jokes and the weekly karaoke parties are things I will never forget and our group is already is planning a reunion to return to Ireland again and I can’t wait for our next adventure together.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Take every moment in and enjoy every second here because it’s a once in a lifetime experience and an unforgettable one in the best way possible
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Yes, I recommend this program

Irish Gap Year Adventure and Leadership Short Gap Year program Summer 2021

Doing this program was one of the best decisions I've made. I tried cliff jumping, surfing, steering a boat and even Irish dancing for the first time! We also did a few hikes, built tree boxes in Bundoran and had many beach days because of the unusually hot summer. Niall, Sarah and both Ryans were all so nice and really helped us learn a lot and have a great time. The visits to Dublin, Belfast and Galway were some of the highlights and, even with COVID, we were still able to experience many of the attractions, sights, restaurants and nightlife the cities have to offer. Because of this program, I have made lifelong friends and feel far more confident about returning to college in the fall.

What was your funniest moment?
Going to the Bundoran Adventure Park and riding the Twister. Scream if you want to go faster!
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Yes, I recommend this program

GIY Round 2

This was my second time with IGY! The program is a shortened version of my previous program. The adventure program ended up being just as exhilarating as the art program!

The 30 days you spend here gives ample time to explore the country and make some awesome memories. The schedule is spaced so that the week is neither crowded or uneventful.

The group I was with is much smaller than my last group; leaving for a much less hustle and bustle atmosphere.

I recommend this program to any seeking a change :)

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Jumping off a 30ft cliff! Climbing up the rocks was a bit more harrowing then the actual jump :P
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Irish Gap Year

I loved this experience since I did things I normally wouldn’t do and went out of my comfort zone to perform new actions. They had lots of fun activities and include all types of people. Also a great way to meet people your age and have a great time. The adventures and hikes are so much fun and you see so many of Ireland’s incredible landmarks and views to really get a feel of Irish culture and what it feels like to live in such a beautiful country. The staff is so amazing and you feel like you have a place and belong in this program. It’s so much fun I recommend for all

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
I would say that would have been Irish dancing since I’ve never danced before and it was so out of my zone and I thought about not doing it then I’m glad I did afterwards.


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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.

Sarah Berkery

Job Title
Adventure & Leadership Program Leader
Sarah is an outdoor enthusiast whose high energy portrays a passion & love for all aspects of the adventure.
Sarah Berkery

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory is the time my friends and I traveled around the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand in our camper van. We were just after arriving on the North Island and purchasing our camper van so we were very excited and eager for our adventure.

Our mission was to explore the beautiful landscape looking for surf breaks and to have fun on the way.

The weather was simply amazing, the waves were pumping and we met some very interesting and friendly people on our journey :)

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

As my experience grows from program to program, my understanding and personal development towards the needs of each gapper to grow as individuals broaden immensely.
Since I started working with Irish Gap Year, I have been able to explore everything that this beautiful country has to offer; it has allowed me to experience Ireland in a new light.

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

I love to catch up with past gappers and hear how they have been doing since finishing our programs. My favorite story would have to be from a past gapper who re-visited us in Ireland last summer. He told me all about the great adventures and experiences he had gained with another previous gapper he met while on one of our programs - they had become lifelong friends. They had explored many more countries together and had an endless amount of fantastic stories and experiences to share.

Our door is always open for our gappers to come to visit :)

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

I would choose the adventure and leadership program because I have first-hand experience of seeing how each gapper develops a huge love for the outdoors and how daily nature immersion lifts their spirits to a whole new level. The amazing hikes and trips to beautiful scenic locations would never get old.

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

Irish Gap Year is a small company, but together we provide such a wide and varied experience for each gapper.

Everyone on our team is personally involved in ensuring that all the needs of the gappers are met. From the directors to the chefs, everyone has an equal and valued role. Together with humour and fun, our team never has a bad day at work.

I was especially proud of my team when they finished the first arts and culture program successfully; a huge effort was put in and they did an amazing job.

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

I believe that forward-thinking is a big factor in a successful company.

Having a team that is passionate about their work with a thirst to thrive is very important. If everyone on the team is passionate about what the company does then moving forward and trying to create and establish new ideas will almost naturally create success for the company.
As the saying goes:

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life".

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