Irish Gap Year

Irish Gap Year

Why choose Irish Gap Year?

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.


Diversity & Inclusion

BIPOC Support

We welcome students from all walks of life and backrounds and have hosted many BIPOC students on our programs.

LGBTQIA+ Support

We welcome students from all walks of life and backrounds and have hosted many LGBTQIA+ students over the years. Ireland and Europe in general are quite progressive with regards to LGBTQIA+ policy, lifestyle and support. Irish Gap Year provides support to our LGBTQIA+ students to help them feel secure and safe during their time with us.



Irish Gap Year is a Carbon Negative Company, meaning we remove more C02 from the amosphere through our ecological volunteering than we create as an organization (including student flights to Europe).

Irish Gap Year Director, Ryan Allen is the Chair of the Gap Year Association's Sustainability Commitee and created the Association's Climate Action Plan in 2023.


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Yes, I recommend this program

The Irish Gap Year Program

The Irish Gap Year wad incredibly positive and life changing expirience for me. I learned many skills that I will carry with me for the rest of my life, met many fantastic people and just had a great time overall. The staff is very helpful and always supportive of the program's participants at all times. The activites were very fun and engaging. I can confidently say that I came out of this program a changed man, and that is not something that I can say about most other programs I've been in throughout my life.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Learn how to have good relations with your roommates.
  • You get learn very valuable skills
  • Staff is extremely helpful
  • Activities are fun and interesting
  • The internet is not very good
  • I have no other cons
  • I have no other cons
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Yes, I recommend this program


I had the absolute best time of my life on this program. From meeting lifelong friends to growing as a human and an artist this program has changed the way I’ll think about culture, history, art and people forever!! All the roommates including mine were very well chosen. The dynamics of all the houses were always on point. The pubs in Bundoran are lovely and safe with lots of families around. Although, the time spent in the Portbeg Holiday Homes are much more memorable. The dynamic between the group is always an amazing mix of casual time and fun outings. The staff and teachers were so caring and supportive throughout the whole program. I use a motorized scooter for my physical disability so coming across a program that supports that is quite rare. Not only did they plan accessible trips and accessible restaurants they purchased with their own money a ramp for the van we use everyday. Never once did any of them make me feel like a hassle or “too much”, as some past programs I’ve done have. The staff also bought us groceries every week based off a list we created and got us medicine from their own pockets when we were sick. One of my fondest memories is Jules ( part of the staff), making me breakfast while I was sick in bed. It’s these smalls things that IGY does that makes Bundoran feel like home.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Black pudding. I did not like black pudding I do not recommend! Although this is a famous Irish dish.
  • Thoughtful staff
  • Creative people
  • Flexible Schedule
  • Mid tier homes
  • A while’s away from town
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Yes, I recommend this program

IGY takeaways

I love my time on this program! I meet some of the most amazing people on the world. The program itself was amazing. I did the arts program and i feel the the balance of art a free time was perfect and i never got burnout. Bundoran is a great town aswell they had such cute cafes, restaurants, theme parks, and really fun pubs. The housing was also great they did a really good job at arranging the rooming situations. the rooms are really big and same with the kitchens and living rooms. the staff is really nice and was always there to help with whatever you need whenever you need it. Overall i had a really good time compared to other art programs ive done in europe this one is DEFINITELY my favorite.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
come into the program with an open mind. you'll be meeting all types of amazing a fun people an will make some of you best friends
  • housing was actual vacation homes with everything you'll need
  • nice staff
  • chef cooks dinner for every house
  • 25 min walk to main town
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Yes, I recommend this program

Spring 2024 IGY

This program was a great way to start your travel journey. It was a really good introduction to traveling in Europe and the UK. If you are looking to do more traveling alone Or with others it is a great way to start. Bundoran was a super cute place to live for 3 months and I would definitely return. The pubs are great with live music and culture. Bundoran is a hot spot for Irish people the come visit so you will meet lots of people. The program leaders and art tutors are amazing and incredibly supportive with anything you might want or need. Overall I had a great 10 weeks and would 100% do it again.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Take advantage of the location and explore what the area has to offer!
  • Great housing
  • Supportive leaders
  • Super fun activities and lots of freedom
  • Tiring actives and long days
  • Housing is not in the town center
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Yes, I recommend this program

Irish Gap Year Experience

Honestly I think my experience here on Irish Gap Year was something I’ll take with me for the rest of my life. The people, the place, the staff, everything was pretty perfect. It was nice to slow down and fully take in all that’s around you. I feel like this program gave that to me. I was in the Art program segment of it and it was just what I needed. I don’t have much of an art background but the tutors were so helpful and helped me discover what makes art, art. The town itself was really beautiful and it was easy to make this town feel like home.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I think if I could do this all over again, I would pack more rain gear. Like maybe some rain pants OR SOMETHING. It rains quite a lot here in the winter months and can be quite cold so a rain jacket is definitely a must. I was so thankful to have it on hand with me the whole time. Some rain pants would have changed the game though.
  • The housing
  • The location of houses relative to the town
  • The art tutors


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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.

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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