Meet the Team
At Irish Gap Year, the focus is very much on working as a team. We foster this principle in our all our programs and it is no different in our own working lives in the company.
We love what we do and each others company!
Please let us introduce some of the main members of our team.
Ryan is a founding director of Irish Gap Year and is passionate about creating transformative experiences for his gappers. His values of integrity, community, love of nature and pushing one’s perceived limitations are embedded in Irish Gap Year programs and the organizational governance of the company.
Ryan grew up on the East Coast of the United States near Philadelphia. Being and adventurous soul, he discovered surfing at a young age on the beaches of nearby New Jersey and found a passion that would stay with him throughout his life and take him on many journey’s all over the world.
Ryan brings over a decade of educational and outdoor knowledge to the team. He has taught outdoor education and worked in management capacities in Ireland, America, Norway and New Zealand and holds degrees in both literature and American Studies from University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Ryan’s role is primarily one of leadership, program and content creation and admissions. He loves getting out in the field with gappers and integrating them into the community. Ryan feels particularly fortunate to have the opportunity to marry his passions with his career.
In his free-time Ryan can be found hiking with his faithful dog (Pups), surfing or playing guitar and banjo.
Killian is a founding member of Irish Gap Year. He is from the town of Bundoran in County Donegal, on the north-western seaboard of Ireland. After completing an honours degree in Construction Engineering from University of Ulster Jordanstown he worked with DELL Computers for a number of years.
However, his passion for outdoor sports and life on the west coast of Ireland brought him back home to set up an adventure tourism company with his wife Mary. Their company, TurfnSurf Tours have been providing adventure activities tours to tourists since 2006. His work has included providing activities and volunteer support to local community groups such as the Neighbourhood Youth Project (NYP).
In recent years Killian has conducted and managed, government funded, educational courses for unemployed youth to train to become a Surf Instructors and Beach Lifeguards.
Killian has had a lifetime interest in water-sports and rescue services related to the sea. He has been a pool and beach lifeguard for many years and is currently a volunteer crew member of the Bundoran RNLI Lifeboat.
He grew up surfing in Bundoran and this sport has meant he has also travelled extensively. In particular Killian spent many summers living and working in Boston in the US. He has also lived and worked in New Zealand and travelled to countries such as China, Russia, Mongolia, Australia and throughout Europe.
Margie O’Reilly, Ph.D.
Margie is a board member, academic advisor and head of our US offices at Irish Gap Year. Margie holds a Ph.D. from Drexel University in Philadelphia and is a professor and program director at Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. As an Irish Gap Year board member and head of our offices in the US, Margie is our Irish/American liaison and a major contributor to the Irish Gap Year course content. Margie delivers the communication & Soft Skills modules of the Transition Adventure Program.
Known affectionately to her students as Doctor ‘O’, Margie has extensive experience in working with students and has awards for teaching and volunteering at the university. Over the past ten years, she has developed and led numerous student study tours to Ireland, Italy, Spain, the UK, the Czech Republic and Costa Rica. With over twenty years of experience in higher education, Margie is a passionate educator with a skill for developing curriculum that blends business, culture and fun.
Margie’s family is from county Cavan in Ireland and she grew up in the Philadelphia area and participated in the Philadelphia Cavan Society. Working with Irish Gap Year is a natural fit that combines her love of working with young people, travel, program design and spending time in Ireland.
Margie is an avid cyclist and can often be found on her bike touring the Delaware River routes, even on the coldest of winter days! She has cycled extensively in Europe and America, but enjoys her time in Ireland most of all. She also enjoys reading, swimming and spending time with her family.
Program Leader Adventure & Leadership Program
Sarah (BA In Outdoor Education) is the newest member to our team and comes to us from a family of four sisters, from the land locked county of Tipperary, but she is the biggest tom boy and sea lover possible.
She has a huge interest in surfing, hurling, snowboarding, hiking, swimming, cliff jumping and more. She is passionate about everything outdoors and if she does have a bad day you simply just gotta put her in the sea!
She has gained valuable experience working with groups of all ages for the past few years working in various adventure centres along the west coast of Ireland as an outdoor instructor. Sarah has valued experience in volunteering over the years helping with Special Olympic events and most recently volunteering with Liquid Therapy and Foroige.
After college Sarah spent 2 years traveling around Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand & Vietnam exploring the different cultures, landscapes and adventure aspects before being pulled back to the west coast of Ireland.
Sarah’s energy and enthusiasm (she even bounces) always lift the spirits of a group even on the wettest grey days. Sarah believes in the outdoor philosophy of allowing the mind, time and space to breathe and develop in nature and also the importance of one challenging themselves and stepping outside their comfort zone for personal development.
Program Leader Irish Arts and Culture Program
Chris (BA Honours in Music Technology) was born and raised in Bundoran. Chris has had a keen interest in Music from an early age and can be found in his spare time playing music locally in Bundoran.
Chris's other passion lies in the love of the outdoors and he has been working as an outdoor instructor for the last 4 years before joining our team at Irish Gap Year. Chris has a strong interest in other cultures and because of this is always soaking up new knowledge of culture and history to share with other.
Chris believes in life long learning and skill sharing when working with people. These beliefs and values transfer into his transformative and experiential teaching style when working with young people in the outdoors.
Chris's personal interests include surfing, kayaking, swimming, hiking and travelling. Chris is also a volunteer crew member with the Bundoran RNLI lifeboat station. Through his years as an instructor Chris has found it very rewarding to help someone discover a new skill or passion or even to help someone overcome a fear and he looks forward to joining the Irish Gap Year team.
Program Leader Irish Arts and Culture Program
Caroline is a Dublin native, but has made Bundoran her home recently to pursue her love of the sea. After taking up surfing in 2016 she has fallen in love with the sea and spends most of her time surfing & seaswimming.
She initially trained as a makeup artist in Special Effects & Makeup for TV, Film & Theatre before going on to study as an actor in Performing Arts & Theatre Training and also Acting for Screen. She has spent the last 4 and half years working as an actor on the Irish TV soap, Fair City playing the role of Farrah.
She also runs her own drama classes for children 'WOW Drama' in Dublin with her best friend. Their main aim is to build self confidence and nuture creativity in the children they teach.
Caroline is currently writing a documentary series on the Irish social care system for the national television network RTE.
Rita hails from Tullaghan, County Leitrim, born and reared. Rita is the Irish Gap Year ‘House Mom’ who we all turn to for advice, a laugh and a good hearty meal. Rita has been working in hospitality throughout her life.
She spent 27 years working in Page’s Café Bundoran whipping up all sorts of culinary delights to please the masses who flocked to Bundoran every summer.
We are thrilled to have her as part of our ever-expanding team. The students love Rita and her amazing cooking and in turn Rita loves the students and their eclectic taste combinations – Lasagne and Pancakes!
The students all call her their ‘Adoptive Granny’ or ‘Mom’. Along with a lifetime of culinary expertise Rita has reared 4 children of her own who now have to share her with our students. We hope they don’t mind!
Onóra manages the office at Irish Gap Year. She has an excellent head for figures and but is also a very creative person. Although born in Dublin Onóra spent most of her childhood on the west coast of Ireland, moving to Drumcliffe in Sligo at the age of 8.
Living in such a picturesque spot the ocean definitely had a pull for her and she took to sailing in her early teens and swam at Streedagh beach most days rain, hail or shine.
After studying Art and Design Education in NCAD in Dublin Onóra moved to Brighton in the UK. While here she spent 7 years working as a ceramicist with Keneth Clarke Ceramics, working her way to becoming the director of the company. During this time Onóra also met the love of her life and now husband, Graham.
As she had always wanted to work with young people, Onóra became an Art Technician at Eastborne College helping students who were studying art and design achieve their goals. Here she again worked quite a bit with ceramics but also got into fine art and model making.
When her two girls came along her longing to come home to Ireland got greater and greater so they packed up, sold their house to start a new life back in Ireland. 10 years later Onóra is living by the sea with her husband and now four kids, loving life and enjoying her role in Irish Gap Year.
Program Leader for Summer Programs
Sammie O’Reilly (M.Ed.) from Philadelphia Pa, has been a classroom teacher, climbing coach, physics tutor and a mentor to students from all over North America.
As an avid climber Sammie believes in applying the mental discipline and lessons learned through climbing to her mentoring and teaching roles with students.
Sammie joins Irish Gap Year as a program leader and educational consultant for the Transition Adventure Program in July and August.
Program Leader Adventure & Leadership / Irish Arts and Culture
Fran is originally from Belfast where she studied business and accounts, but that all changed when she married a Donegal man and discovered the ocean!
In 2011 after 15 years in admin/accounts Fran decided to change career paths and train as an outdoors instructor, she never looked back, adding on new qualifications every year and developing her skills. She has her own swim school and coaches with the local club, she is a lifeguard trainer & assessor and has tutored on outdoor instructor courses. She also volunteers with Liquid Therapy delivering an amazing ocean experience to people with additional needs.
Fran has a lot of experience working with people in the outdoors, she loves her job and has worked with many different groups. She really enjoys being part of a persons development and watching them grow in confidence through outdoor pursuits and learning new skills. She is friendly and approachable and people find it easy to come to her for a quiet chat or if they have any worries or concerns.
Fran loves surfing, swimming, running, caravanning with family and believes that the ocean fixes everything!!
Program Leader Adventure and Leadership Program
Joey is our Sligo connection, his family have been part of the small village of Cliffoney for generations. Growing up by the sea and mountains he developed a strong love for adventure, learning to fish and horse ride from his father at an early age. Always keen to wander off and explore as a child, Joey hasn’t change and is likely to lead the group off the beaten path in search of hidden gems.
Joey qualified and worked as a fitness instructor before going on to become a swim teacher then surfing instructor, his outdoor passion and natural leadership skills leading him to Irish Gap Year. Joey’s unique approach to personal growth and ability to connect with others allows him to be someone gapper’s can look to when needing help finding and following their passion.
Passionate about music, singing from his earliest memories and playing guitar as a child Joey travels the north west playing solo when he’s not joining in on an acoustic session in one of the local bar’s. Entertaining the group on the rainy days with his acoustic guitar and mellow songs, he’s always got a light to shine on gapper’s feeling blue, helping them feel new!
Originally from County Meath, Sarah (MSc in Marketing) has been based in the West and Northwest for the last 15 years. Her love of travel started early! Having a father from County Clare and a mother from the State of Washington has led to some adventurous summer holidays. This theme has continued over the years in pursuit of outdoor sporting adventures in South America, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Europe, especially in Italy and Spain.
Sarah has qualified as a Royal Life Saving Pool and Beach lifeguard and done volunteer work with Surf2Heal, Croi, SVP and Ironman. Her overriding passion is any sport involving water and she has tried to pass on this love by teaching kayaking and supping to all age groups in the North West (thanks to her previous work experience with Killian and Ryan).
Sarah is currently a member of the Inver Rowing Club, is converting a camper van, learning Spanish and with her growing interest in Donegal history is completing a Tourism course in local and regional guiding with Letterkenny Institute of Technology.