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
Allie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Euro Explorer ‘22

This program is amazing at teaching valuable travel skills. We traveled through 4 countries in 4 weeks and got to see so much. I can not speak more highly of the leaders and their adaptability. They all truly do care about each and every student. This program also allows for you to travel without the stress. There is also tons of time to explore on your own or in small groups which adds a much needed independence level. Traveling in a group adds safety and makes everything so much more fun. Throughout the 4 weeks we did lots of city tours and exploring as well as hiking in the alps and swimming. There are a few built in free days but this program is definitely tiring. It is constant moving, living out of a backpack and hostels. It is so much fun but definitely something to be prepared for. Irish Gap Year is an amazing company run and staffed by equally amazing people.

Pros
  • Train travel throughout Europe
  • Structure and social aspect of being in a group
  • Leaders
Cons
  • extra money spent on snacks lunch and meals on free days
  • very tiring both socially and physically
Default avatar
Chloe
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Euro Explorers

The European Explorer program is a chance to explore European cities by train. European Explorers has been a chance for me to learn how to be a solo traveller and be more confident. I have also made amazing new friends and memories. This program is a chance for you to learn how to travel on your own. I think this program has definitely been a struggle in the sense that it can be very tiring but I am so grateful for it as I have grown so much over my time in Europe. I truly have had the best time!

Pros
  • Travel from city to city is paid for
  • Free time
Cons
  • Travelling constantly so can be exhausting if you aren’t up for it
  • Cost (Not all meals are paid for)
Default avatar
Alberta
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

European Explorer 2022

Irish Gap Year’s European Explorer program surpassed my expectations and fulfilled my gap year goals of cultivating independence, making friends/meeting new people and cultural immersion throughout Europe.
Prior to the program I had never travelled abroad and was seriously lacking independence. I had some anxiety about the safety aspect of travel. However throughout the program I felt very safe with the support of our program leaders and my peers.
This program got me out of my comfort zone socially, physically, emotionally, energetically and financially. At the end of this experience I have discovered so much about myself and my personal limits. Additionally, I have grown immensely and made some incredible memories.
The complicated aspects of travel such as making reservations, buying tickets etc we’re all taken care of by IGY. Not having to worry about this component removed a ton of stress for us.
I would strongly recommend the European Explorer program to anyone who wants to build up their independence, travel Europe on their gap year and have a group of peers to travel with!

Pros
  • A group of peers to travel with
  • Not having to worry about booking hostels and train schedules etc.
  • Incredibly thoughtful program leaders who were super supportive.
Cons
  • Long days of train travel were exhausting.
  • I learned travel can be unpredictable, plans that change can be frustrating.
  • The health risk was a con I experienced. I got covid.
Default avatar
Chloe
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Time on European Explorer

I had a great time doing the European Explorer program. My leaders were always super supportive and always gave us recommendations for each city we traveled to. They navigated lots of complicated travel with a bunch of 18 year-olds, which is not always easy. We had lots of free time in each city but almost always did a walking tour to get our bearings. My favorite cities were definitely Prague and Munich. We always tried the cuisine of each country we visited, and you could always find food you were happy with, even for our pickiest eaters. I really bonded with the people on my program, and I know that they are people I will keep in touch with after my gap year. Backpacking around Europe for a month is not for the faint of heart though, it is exhausting and draining!

Pros
  • Lots of Travel
  • Great Social Support
  • Independence/Freedom
Cons
  • Really Tiring
  • Cost (lots of other stuff you have to pay for while abroad)
Default avatar
Mika
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Euro explorer

This trip is a nice bite of Europe. You get to visit many places, and get surface level understanding of each location. It’s a great option if you’re looking for a program that will give you a little bit of everything. There’s good variety and the course leaders are very helpful and kind. The social aspect is lively and I enjoyed having dinner with everyone at night, having all our dinners organized made the trip much easier. However if you’re looking for a very in depth program, I don’t think that’s achievable through the 4-week course and If you’re considering this program I would also suggest to be prepared to walk quite a lot as some of the hostels ended up being 45 minutes away from the more interesting parts of each location, and walking to and from hostels that are more out of the way becomes more difficult with the backpack. You get a significant amount of free time, but the leaders aren’t always very knowledgeable on each place so you might have to do a lot of your own research. However I made some fantastic memories on this trip, with my personal highlight being hiking through the Austrian alps. That aside it’s a good experience to have and a good course to consider. They put in a lot of effort to take good care of you.

Pros
  • Free time
  • Cool activities
  • Visiting both urban and rural locations
Cons
  • Not very flexible
  • Not much downtime
  • Not great hostel location

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

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