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
Headquarters

Bundrowes House
Magheracar
Bundoran
Co. Donegal f94xk49
Ireland

Reviews

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

Taking any type of gap year is a massive leap of faith. But trust me when I say your fears will dissipate when you meet the good-natured and dedicated people who run this program. After three months of exploring the Emerald Isle, I must admit, Bundoran, Ireland is a second home. Our time spent across the Atlantic was filled with wonderful workshops led by local artists, trips to cities, and unreal walks and hikes through the country-side. Accommodations were extremely comfortable and making friends is easier than you can imagine. My advice is to talk to people, the locals, the bartenders hearing their stories can alone make your experience richer. I wouldn't trade my time here for anything in the world and I truly recommend it for any student.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
You get as much out of this program as you put in
Default avatar
Claire
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This program was absolutely amazing. Every single workshop is well worth it! Students experience all different mediums and learn from incredible artists. The staff are incredibly supportive and help you every step of the way if you need it! The housing situation is fantastic and I learned so many life skills that I’ll use in college and beyond. The two or three day trips to cities like Dublin and Galway and smaller towns such as Dingle inspire students and encourage them to learn about the history of Ireland, as well as what is going on currently in this wonderful country. My experience here has been better than I could ever have imagined. The program co-owners Ryan and Killian are always there if needed (not as many founders are involved in their students’ passions and growths as they are). Overall, this experience has been one that I would recommend for any student that’s looking to explore their artistic side, as well as make new friends.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Have fun with it! Don’t be afraid to express yourself and ask any of the leaders or tutors (art teachers) for advice or help. This program is a place to grow and learn!
Default avatar
Livia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Irish Gap year was an incredible experience and I will never forget it. I made so many amazing memories here and life long friends. I got to explore many amazing places and see many amazing sights in Ireland and was constantly given opportunities to try new things. The workshops were all amazing and it was so fun getting to try so many different kinds of art during my time here. Throughout the program there was a great balance of adventures, art, and time spent locally. There was also a balance of support and structure with independence and free time. All of the staff and program leaders were absolutely incredible. They were so kind and helpful and supportive too. I am going to miss them and all the people of Bundoran so much. I could not recommend this program more highly. You will have an amazing time and make memories you will never forget.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be as open as possible to trying new things. Make the most of all the opportunities you are given and you won’t regret it.
Default avatar
Andrew
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Irish Gap Year was definitely worth it. You’ll meet many people during your adventures, many of whom will become close friends. Many of the things you’ll experience will be completely new, some of it will be a little nerve wracking and some of it will come a little easier. I had a fantastic time exploring the Irish countryside and the many cities and towns. The locals are very friendly and will always give you the time for a cool conversation. Don’t be afraid to ask too experience something that isn’t on repertoire . I was able to travel a couple of hours to take a tour around an airport with a fellow gapper. Take things in stride and it’ll be a very rewarding experience. You’ll come out a new person. Take a chance on yourself and come join the Irish Gap Year.

What would you improve about this program?
More time spent in certain towns/cities (Dingle and Galway).
Default avatar
Cole
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This trip was absolutely spectacular. Although this year was the first one for the arts and culture program, you wouldn’t know it. The workshops were really well put together, ranging from drama to photography to found art. The instructors were amazing, and I felt like I really improved in both technique and content while here. Learning about the history and culture of Ireland was also fascinating, from the oppression of the workhouses to the literary developments in contemporary history.
Although the program is based in the small town of Bundoran, frequent trips to other cities and towns keeps things fresh and allows for new experiences, while still having a solid place to come back to. The program leaders are supportive and fun, and aren’t afraid to show their personalities. Also, there’s a dog.
Overall, this was an amazing experience that I don’t think I could have had elsewhere. If you’re looking for a fun, low-stress, but still productive and energetic environment, then this is the program for you.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Learning about the Troubles was both shocking and sad, but I’m glad I did.

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