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 and Leadership or Irish Arts and Culture - Whether you're an outdoorsy type or more artisically 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 & Freedom: Our gappers enjoy the perfect balance of support from our team and freedom to live independently.
*We are Irish: Explore all things Irish as we welcome with open arms into our community and culture.

Slan go Foill!

Founded
2015

Upcoming Events

  1. Mon 1 February
    Meet Irish Gap Year Alumni

    Chat to Irish Gap Year Alumni about their time in Ireland.

    Time:
    12:00 PM (PST) - 1:00 PM (PST)
    Hosted By:
    Irish Gap Year
  2. Mon 8 February
    Sustainability in Ireland

    Chat to Aga, Sarah and Killian about the Adventure and leadership program and how it addresses many sustainability issues in our local environment

    Time:
    12:00 PM (PST) - 1:00 PM (PST)
    Hosted By:
    Irish Gap Year
  3. Thu 11 February
    Art in Ireland: Meet our program Tutors

    Meet some of the local artist who teach on our Irish Arts and Culture program. Explore the various mediums you will be using.

    Time:
    12:00 PM (PST) - 1:00 PM (PST)
    Hosted By:
    Irish Gap Year

Reviews

Default avatar
Genevieve
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had an incredible time with Irish Gap Year. I was able to meet amazing people who I intend to have life long friendships with and also had the opportunity to get to know myself better as well. With wonderful art instructors I was taught how to make art I felt truly proud of and not only learned helpful techniques but got the chance to explore my own artistic process. I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone who is passionate about art and life itself, the opportunities with IGY are nearly endless!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The most surprising thing I saw was when the entire beach and walk way were covered with waist deep sea foam. Children were getting lost in it and waves of sea foam came and basically attacked us! Being from colorado I had never witnessed the ocean like this!
Default avatar
Josiah
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This was by far the best program I could have chosen to participate in. Though beginning in the midst of a pandemic, the experience I had I would trade for no other - between surfing near daily, spending nights having wild fun with people my own age and taking some of the hardest hikes I've ever been on, there's nothing that could compare.
Being stuck in level 5 had little bearing on my enjoyment of my time here, as the leaders successfully created an itinerary that kept us all engaged for the whole time. We had input on the schedule too, and though it was difficult to coordinate making what we wanted to happen under level 5, we were successful enough. Some highlights included near daily walks, hikes, and leadership workshops, and occasional kayaking, swimming, cliff jumping, and biking outings, not to mention all of the memories that were created with the people I met.
However, this is not the place for people looking for a seriously outdoors experience. While having a home base of sorts in Bundrowes was nice, it meant that we were living in Ireland as students with outdoors education experiences as opposed to students on an outdoors based program. It is a comfortable and loosely planned experience with room for feedback, your own activities and relationships to grow.

What was your funniest moment?
Near the end of the program, we were supposed to create a short speech to express out loud to the other students how we had changed, what caused it, and how it would affect us going forward. In my mind, it was a fairly easy task. As a proficient public speaker, I can enjoy it when prepared, but even when I'm not I can improvise effectively. What I didn't expect was that this group of students and leaders would have created such an environment that brought out the honesty that it did. Suddenly I was having real trouble continuing, and if I had been the type to cry I would have. I would also like to answer another from the list of questions provided, about what advice I would give. My advice would be: be self sufficient. While living in a house with peers, even if you're used to cleaning your own mess and taking care of yourself, you will have to take on other people's messes too. From physical mess to emotional mess to timing mess, being able to keep your schedule and mind organized will help tremendously, and even if you can't do it perfectly, just making an effort will help. As someone who struggles with food security, my biggest struggle was timing my meals and making sure I had everything I needed to create my food - I had to do a lot of my own shopping.
Default avatar
Austin
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had an amazing time on this trip! Even though a lot of it was changed because of covid, the trip was still a very fun and enriching experience. The program leaders at IGY are super friendly and supportive, and I made lifelong friendships with everyone in my group. There were lots of chances to go surfing and spend time outside, and I was also able to join the adventure and leadership group a couple times when I wanted to go on longer hikes. We did some great workshops, and the tutors who taught them were friendly and very talented. I grew a lot from this trip and had a lot of fun.

Default avatar
Braden
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My experience here was so beyond incredible. I’ve made so many incredible friends here’s a learned so much about Ireland and the culture. I seriously enjoyed every single day of being in Ireland.
I’m so so sad to leave. Like this has honestly been the highlight of my life so far; doing this program. There was never a dull moment with the group, we all became so incredibly close so quickly. The independence that you are given on this trip really allowed to me find myself in ways I never have before. This program has changed my life. I’m so thankful for it

What was your funniest moment?
There have been way too many funny moments to count.
Default avatar
Benjamin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had a wonderful experience that will prepare me for the next chapter of my life. I made many hopefully lifelong friends. I was glad to have done this program. I would like to thank all of the staff of Irish gap year. Including, but not limited to, Kate, Sarah, Killian, and Ryan. I would also like to thank all of my instructors including, Paschal, Lani, Aideen, Ken, Caroline, Maura, Rossa, and others. I would like to thank all those people for really making my gap year complete. I more so was happy to spend time with my fellow gappers.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Explore the gap year!!!!!! Do everything cuz it’s cool. Have fun.

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.

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.

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".

Professional Associations