Irish Gap Year

Irish Gap Year

About

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!

Founded
2015

Reviews

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Caitlin
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Irish Gap Year - Arts and Culture Program

Despite the restrictions imposed by Covid, my IGY program in the fall of 2020 was a wonderful gap year experience. I loved being able to travel and see parts of northwest Ireland, especially our trip to Galway and the Aran Islands. We also took many hikes to explore Ireland's natural beauty. The best part of the art tutorials was having the opportunity to try different mediums I had not previously tried, such as woodworking, which I enjoyed so much that I bought my own set of chisels to continue developing my skills. I cannot say enough good things about the staff, who took such good care of me when I developed a medical issue and made sure that I got the medical care I needed. Kate, Sarah, Killian and Ryan are fun, knowledgeable, patient and kind. At a time when many programs were cancelling, they found a way to make our program safe, fun and successful.

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Jackie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

IGY arts Bundoran

I really loved Irish gap year! The students and the faculty were all very kind, cooperative and supportive. We had a ton of craic despite covid being a thing (although there is not much covid in Ireland anyways). Our leaders, Fiona and Phil, made sure we had ample opportunities to see as much of Ireland as possible. We took a few trips up to Northern Ireland and visited Derry and Belfast (which I loved so much that I will actually be spending the week after the program in Belfast). We also took a trip to Galway which was super quaint and packed with a lot to do. Overall I would totally recommend Irish gap year to any student who needs a year off of college or a gap in between high school and college.

What was your funniest moment?
I honestly don’t think I could pick just one funniest moment but we had so much craic as a household. I know all of us will be going home with a whole slew of inside jokes.
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Graham
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Craic in Bundoran, Ireland

Cliff jumping, hiking, surfing, brilliant art teachers: these were all short walk from our home beside the cliffs in Bundoran, Ireland, a small surf town. The day-to-day of the program consisted of an effective mix of arts education and Ireland exploration which I loved.
Fiona and Phil, my counselors during the program, were a highlight — guiding us through challenging moments and triumphant ones with always good music. Despite Covid restrictions, the program managed to put together a great program. Thanks for all the great memories!

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Cliff jumping was super scary! But once you’re standing up there, all you have to do is close you’re eyes and leap off the edge.
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Ben
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Definitely would recommend

Doing this gap program was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. This experience was unforgettable I’ve discovered that I am a much better artist than I had initially thought and over the course of 3 months, i feel like I’ve improved on those skills. I also really got along with the tutors and feel like They’ve helped me bring out the artist in me. Our program leaders (Phil and Fiona) were amazing and I found that they’re easy to talk to and they made the program 10x better. I’ve also met some amazing people that were a part of this group that I will definitely be keeping in touch with after the program.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Exploring the mines was probably the most surprising thing we did because I never thought I’d end up going into an abandoned mineshaft and that was really cool.
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Hudson
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

IGY 2021

Attending IGY was one of the best decisions of my whole gap year experience. I learned so much about art—not only practical skills, but also the values of unjudged creativity and perseverance. Seeing the natural beauty of Ireland through hikes was wonderful, and though covid prevented us from visiting as many cities as I would like, I’ll remember the places we did visit forever. Anyone who enjoys nature, art, or is even just open to pushing themselves into something new (I wasn’t much of an artist myself before I came here) will love this program.

Programs

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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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