These adventures into the wilds of Ireland will take you far off the beaten track, deep into Irish nature, culture and community where you will learn much about yourself. Each expedition has its own student leader who will work closely with Irish Gap Year program leaders to plan, prepare and manage the journey. Prepare to step out of your comfort zone and into the big wide world!
The Adventure and Leadership Program
THE NORTH DONEGAL EXPEDITION
A Kayaking Journey to Caves of Light
National Geographic recently named County Donegal (Irish Gap Year’s home county) the coolest place on Earth for its vast and untouched nature, unassuming and friendly people, small rural villages and all around wild feel.
From hiking through Ireland’s finest coastal forests to exploring hidden, golden sandy beaches, to staying in renovated railway cars, kayaking into the ‘Cave of Light’, this expedition is full of outstanding adventure and panoramas around every corner.
WEST DONEGAL EXPEDITION
Sea Cliffs, Mountain Tops, National Parks and Castles
Welcome to West Donegal, a place of rugged beauty, vast sea- scapes and lonely mountain peaks.
Home to one of Europe’s highest sea-cliffs, West Donegal boasts a landscape unrivalled. This expedition will bring you to some of Ireland’s highest mountain peaks with outstanding views of the northwest, to places of ancient folklore and to stunning, windswept beaches.
Prepare to be immersed in a long-forgotten landscape; dramatic, beautiful and on the furthest fringes of Europe.
THE DERRY EXPEDITION
Locals will take us on a tour of the city walls, which tell the story of ‘The Troubles’ in graffiti and symbols. Although this artwork is politically controversial, powerful and graphic, it is left for all to see and serves as a reminder of how far things have come in the past 20 years.
We’ll then depart Derry and head to Inishowen Peninsula to explore this seldom visited region of County Donegal famous for its beaches, castles and traditional villages.
While in Inishowen you’ll enjoy exploring and learning about the many ruined castles as we hike around Malin Head, Ireland’s Northern most point.
THE CONNEMARA EXPEDITION
No Tech in the Wilderness of Ireland’s Largest National Park
Situated in the West of Ireland in County Galway, Connemara National Park covers some 2,957 hectares of scenic mountains, expanses of bogs, heather, grasslands and woodlands. This is also home to Ireland’s largest Irish speaking population and is a stronghold of traditional Irish culture.
While in Connemara we’ll be hiking some of the parks classic trails that offer expansive views of the surrounding countryside, mountains, rivers and sea. This is truly a spectacular region and an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise that will leave you astounded. Adventure & Leadership Program
A Cultural Pick of Ireland’s Capital City
Ireland’s capital city is home to many national treasures, interesting characters and a rich history going all the way back to its Viking roots.
We’ll tour the must see locations such as Trinity College, The Guinness Brewery, O’Connell Street and the City center, but our real goal is to get beneath the skin of the ‘fair city’.
BELFAST AND PORTRUSH
Game of Thrones Country and Beyond
Small, yet bursting with natural beauty, history and mystery, the Belfast and Portrush expedition is the perfect mix of adventure and culture. We’ll tour the Bushmills Distillery and visit the Titanic Museum. We’ll stop off at a few ‘Game of Thrones’ film locations and enjoy an evening of cinema and wine in a private Art Deco 1920’s theatre.
To top things off we’ll wrap up the Belfast trip with a guided walking tour of the city’s street art, which tells the history of conflict and peace in Belfast through graffiti.
The Irish Arts and Culture Program
An Artistic & Cultural Pick ‘n’ Mix
Our first expedition to Dublin City is designed to give you an introduction to Dublin’s artistic and cultural heritage. We’ll tour the city’s most notorious literary pubs, where actors will perform works by acclaimed Dublin writers.
Of course, no trip to Dublin would be complete without a visit to the Guinness Brewery and Storehouse. Here you will learn about the long and fascinating Irish obsession with ‘the black stuff ’, sample the finest pint of Guinness in the land and take in the best views of Dublin City from the 13th floor of the brewery.
Samhain in Dublin: Hauntings, Vikings and Fiddle Strings
Our second big trip to Dublin takes place over Samhain, the ancient Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season. In modern times this festival is known as Halloween.
What better way to spend Halloween than exploring Ireland’s most haunted places, uncovering Viking Dublin, tapping your toe to a bit of traditional Irish music and learning to write your name in Ogham, the ancient Irish script.
You’ll have some free time in Dublin City for shopping and exploring with your mates before making our way home to Donegal.
Pagan Ireland, Sacred Sites and Folklore
Even before the pyramids of Egypt were built New Grange was already the spiritual and political center of Celtic Ireland. At over 6,500 years old the tombs and sacred sites in the Boyne Valley are what most would consider the starting point of Irish culture and history. At these UNESCO World Heritage sites you’ll journey underground into ancient tombs where you’ll find some of the oldest artwork known in Europe.
You’ll have discussions with historians and folklorists and gain private access to some of the lesser known megaliths in the area as we create our own artwork interpreting the heritage of the area into sketches and poems. This expedition is all about bringing ancient Ireland to life and bringing you face to face with the earliest forms of Irish culture and art.
Europe’s Culture Capital 2020
Galway has been named the cultural capital of Europe for 2020 — No small feat given that hundreds of cities were in the running. The lead-up to the 2020 Galway Arts Festival and European Cultural Capital Year will showcase the best of Galway and we want you to be there to be part of the excitement! While in the ‘City of Tribes’ we’ll speak with the people involved in various projects with the cities acclaimed artists and get behind the scenes of the Galway arts scene.
We’ll find out what’s at stake for the local community as this small city receives international recognition and grows in popularity.
Perspectives Old and New Through Street Art
When people think of Belfast the first thing that usually comes to mind is political turmoil of the 1960s – 1990s known as ‘The Troubles’, but we’re here to meet a new generation of artists, activists and politicians that have rebuilt the city into one of Northern Ireland’s most vibrant communities.
Fine Art in Ireland’s Medieval City
With narrow lanes, historic building, castles, cathedrals and medieval pubs around every corner, Kilkenny is the Ireland you may have dreamed of.
As if the overwhelming beauty of the city weren’t enough, Kilkenny is also one of the finest towns for arts and crafts in Ireland.
Where Traditional meets Alternative at the Edge of Europe
On the wild southwest coast of Ireland in County Kerry you’ll find the Dingle Peninsula, full of quaint villages with colourful locals and a small, yet vibrant arts scene.
This is truly the edge of Europe and the whole place has a wild, windswept and timeless feel to it. Our project is to document the people and places of Dingle through film, prose and sketches as we venture through its traditional villages. We’ll tour the peninsula taking in the world famous scenery, meeting the locals and getting involved with artists through day-workshops.