Irish Arts & Culture Immersion Program
What's is All About?
The Irish Arts & Culture Immersion Program is a structured, three-week program designed to give students an opportunity to discover and cultivate their creative side, build independence and immerse themselves in Irish life and culture.
The program offers a fun and low-stress balance of community living, daily art-workshops with local artists, cultural expeditions and travel throughout Ireland. This program is all about exploring your creative side and no prior artistic experience is needed – Only enthusiasm and an open mind!
The Program is based in Bundrowes House – Our 19th Century Manor located in Bundoran, a quaint and inviting town on the world famous Wild Atlantic Way, in County Donegal (National Geographic’s Coolest Place on Earth in 2017).
Our experienced team of Program Leaders will accompany students throughout the program, contextualizing activities, adventures, projects and daily life, while also offering support and utilizing their skills as experiential educators.
Our students will learn to live and work as a team, to manage a household and to cultivate their creative side in a supportive environment. They will explore Ireland’s cultural heritage and modern arts scene, immerse themselves in our community, develop their artistic skills and above all else have fun!
Develop your artistic skills through daily workshops with local artists at The Model, Sligo’s award-winning creative arts studio, gallery and community hub.
See more of Ireland with overnight expeditions to the cities of Dublin, Belfast and Galway.
Live in our 19th Century Manor House on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in the quaint seaside town of Bundoran, County Donegal.
Early January and mid-August start dates means you are home in time for your Spring semester or other gap year plans.
Enjoy daily adventures throughout the Northwest of Ireland exploring castles, coastlines, villages, art galleries, National Parks and more.
Local Living: A community based experienced that brings you deep into Irish culture.
Cultivate your creative mind while immersing yourselves in all things Irish!
Discover Donegal, your home away from home and National Geographic’s ‘Coolest Place in the World’ in 2017 (Yes, it’s really that beautiful).
Enjoy the support, mentoring and humor of the Irish Gap Year team.
Dates for Upcoming Programs
Winter 21' Arts & Culture Immersion Program: Arrive Sunday, January 3rd / Depart Sunday, January 24th
Summer 21' Arts & Culture Immersion Program: Arrive Tuesday, August 3rd / Depart Tuesday, August 24th, 2021.
US Dollars: $4,400.00
Program deposits and fees are 100% refundable for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. You can learn about our COVID-19 policies here.
Our application process is done entirely through the website, click the 'Apply Here' link above to get started. You'll receive automated emails from Irish Gap Year prompting each step of the process.
- First create and register your account with Irish Gap Year. It's an easy process that only takes 5 minutes.
- Your Irish Gap Year Student Portal will be activated prompting you to complete our questionnaire and medical form through your student portal.
- We'll be in touch with you via email to organize a phone call to get to know you better, answer your questions about the program and officially welcome you aboard.
- A 10% deposit is required to secure your place on the program. The balance is then due 90-days prior to the start of the program. See our COVID-19 page for updated payment schedule and policies.
- Your orientation materials will be available through your Irish Gap Year Student and Parent Portals.
Find Out More About Our Irish Arts and Culture Immersion Program
The Irish Arts and Culture Immersion Program aims to give students a unique perspective on Ireland through the three pillars of Artistic Discovery, Community Living and a Cultural Exploration of our country.
Our art workshops are taught by local professional artists as The Model, county Sligo's award winning art studio, education center and cultural hub.
1. Artistic Discovery
Students will have daily opportunities to explore and cultivate their creative minds while working with accomplished local artists. Over the course of the program, students will participate in a total of 19 half-day workshops in charcoal drawing, mixed-media upcycling and drama/performance.
You don’t need to be particularly artistically skilled to enjoy these workshops, all we ask is that you are open-minded and excited about participating. Let your imagination run free and pursue your work purely for the joy of learning and creating something unique to yourself.
Drama and Performance
You’ll be working with the fabulous Maura Logue of Dark Daughter Productions for a series of seven workshops that will unearth, explore and resurrect some of Ireland’s more obscure historical figures. Student’s will delve into Irish history and politics as they research and develop their characters, all the while pushing their comfort zones through improvisation games, acting coaching and ultimately performance of their own character piece.
The workshop series will culminate with a period costumed, on-site performance (for our own group and selected invitees) in a historical residence, castle or manor that will be photographed by fellow students, thus creating unique memories and mementos from your time with Maura.
Sligo-based artist, surf enthusiast and all-around uplifting character Ken Gunning will be facilitating five workshops in mixed-media and upcycling at The Model, county Sligo’s premier art studio space and creative hub.
Ken’s workshops are playful, fun, whacky and aim to clear creative blockages by breaking all the rules of what art is supposed to be. You’ll be turning disused, everyday items into your own works of art as Ken leads you down a path of discovery and recovery of your creative self.
Charcoal Sketching and Portraiture
Acclaimed Irish artist Michael Wann will host a series of seven workshops at The Model, Sligo on the technical skills and techniques of charcoal drawing, sketching, landscape and portraiture.
Michael will break down the rules of ratio, perspective, shading, light and dark values and other technical aspects of drawing as he demystifies the artform using his own unique methods of teaching.
2. Community Living
Be part of our community while living at Bundrowes House, your Victorian Manor House on the water’s edge of the Atlantic Ocean in County Donegal. Your 8-bedroom, traditional Victorian is fully stocked with its own art room and supplies, Wi-Fi, a full kitchen, bikes and many original features. The home is just 20 minutes’ walk from the center of our town (Bundoran) where you will find friendly locals, great shops, pubs, live-music and cafes.
While in residence at Bundrowes House, students will build their independence by managing the household (with the support of our leaders of course!) and being responsible for some supervised cooking, cleaning, doing their own laundry and many of the other domestic skills now known as ‘adulting’.
Each student will have a roommate and a spectacular room with unparalleled views of Donegal Bay, the mountains of the northwest and the surrounding country-side.
3. Cultural Exploration
We are passionate about Ireland and want to share as much of this green island with you as possible! As with all of our programs, the Arts and Culture Immersion Program includes expeditions to some of our favourite places in the country. Our adventures will include both guided tours and time to make artwork reflecting our experience, so grab your favourite art supplies, hop on the bus and get ready to be inspired!
Some of Our Expeditions and Site Visits around the Northwest
Glenveagh National Park
We’ll tour the haunted 19th Century castellated mansion and learn about it’s dark past, have a relaxed lunch in the café’ and do some light trekking on some of the wonderful walking trails in the park. Waterfalls, mountains, lakes, castles, ghosts…
Glenveagh is a place of inspiration, history and awe. We’ll also bring our art supplies to document the adventure; this may include watercolours, pencil drawings, cameras or whatever your preferred medium is.
Slieve League Sea Cliffs and West Donegal
Prepare to be astounded and slightly terrified by Europe’s highest sea cliffs towering 2,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean – That’s right, a 2,000 ft drop straight into the sea!
Slieve League means ‘the grey mountain’ in Irish, perhaps the early occupants of the area caught it on a bad day, because there is no shortage of inspiration and colour here.
Donegal Castle and Donegal Town
Donegal Castle is an excellent example of a fully restored Gaelic fortified castle and holds a significant place in the history of our region as the home of the last stronghold of the Gaelic Chieftans during the time of The Flight of the Earls. The castle is said to have been built on the site of an early Viking fort.
Donegal Town is as quaint and quaint can be and offers wonderful shopping, café’s, art galleries and local walks along the coast and forests The locals are particularly friendly (even by Irish standards).
Majestic landscapes and sweeping views of Donegal Bay, brightly coloured fishing boats, cliffs, golden sand and the iconic Classiebawn Castle make Mullaghmore Headland one of the gems of the northwest.
This is one of our favorite locations for a 'walk and sketch' day where we'll bring our art supplies, a picnic, and settle in to interpret this amazing location in our art. Truly a photographer or painters dream.
Our nearest City, Sligo is major hub for the performing arts, studio art, music and poetry. Sligo is home to The Model Art Studio (which houses many Yeats originals on display in their galleries) where you’ll be enjoying your daily art workshops. Sligo is known throughout Ireland as the home of William Butler Yeats and is renowned for its literary legacy. Many of the places Yeats wrote about in his poems we will visit.
We'll also be enjoying live music and theatre at the Hawkes Well Theatre in Sligo and perhaps even a night out in the pubs!
Glencar Waterfall and Lake
Glencar Waterfall is only a few short miles from our home base at Bundrowes House, yet feels like an entirely different world, a Jurassic world, a world forgotten by time, a world immortalized in poetry, legend and literature. The waterfall flows from a high cliff nestled in native Irish trees before making it’s way to the dark Glencar Lake below, where the shapeshifting Puca Monster is of ancient Irish folklore is said to reside...
Glencar is another one of our favorite locations for an afternoon of on-site sketching, painting and prose.
And many other day trips in our area…
Overnight Expeditions Around Ireland
Our overnight expeditions around Ireland are a big hit with our students. You'll be travelling in the comfort of our own mini-busses with the Irish Gap Year Program Leaders on expeditions. Our groups stay in top-rated, centrally-located hostels and guesthouses on our overnight trips (and we don't share rooms, not to worry mom and dad!)
Dublin: A Cultural Pick n’ Mix
Our expedition to Dublin City is designed to give you a hand-on sample of Dublin’s artistic and cultural heritage.
The trip starts with a day touring the city’s most notorious literary pubs, where gangsters, revolutionaries, novelists and poets shared many pints of Guinness while plotting the 1916 uprising. Actors will perform on-site the works by acclaimed Dublin writers such as James Joyce, Roddy Doyle and Sean O’Casey to give you an interactive insight into where and how modern Ireland was shaped.
We’ll enjoy a group meal in one of our favourite, funky Dublin pubs before heading off for free time in the city.
Day two will involve our Dublin City Photo-Scavenge, taking you off-piste to some of Dublin’s lesser known heritage sites as well her ‘must-see’ locations. We’ll also visit the National Archaeology Museum that houses antiquities ranging from ancient bog-mummies to Viking weapons to Celtic treasures and gold (including one very interesting golden torc from 3,000 years ago that was excavated on-site at our student house, Bundrowes).
Belfast: Perspectives New and Old through Street Art
When people think of Belfast the first thing that usually comes to mind is political turmoil of the 1960’s – 1990’s 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.
Our focus will be a comparative survey of the old Belfast versus the new Belfast through the lens of street art. We’ll tour Belfast’s most notorious neighbourhoods that witnessed civil unrest for over 30 years, we’ll speak to the people directly involved in the conflict and hear their stories.
You’ll tour the inner cities unique and politically charged street art murals followed by a street art sketch class in the evening with local artists who will also provide pizza and beer. We’ll discuss the different perspectives on Belfast’s tumultuous past and enjoy all that modern Belfast has to offer.
Our second day in Belfast will involve free-time to explore the excellent shopping and food on offer in the city. After that we’ll make our way to The Giant’s Causeway (by way of Game of Thrones film locations) where we’ll encounter one of Ireland’s most magnificent natural wonders.
Galway: Ireland’s Culture Capital and the Aran Islands
Ask any Irish person to name their favourite places in the country and chances are Galway will be at the top of the list. Galway is Ireland’s culture capital, with excellent pubs, live music, street buskers, restaurants and a history that stretches into deep antiquity.
Our time in Galway will include a visit to its excellent museum, a group dinner at Ireland’s best fish n’ chips, a group pub outing to listen to traditional Irish music and plenty of free time for you to explore the city with your mates.
On day two, we’ll make the journey to the nearby Aran Islands, one of Irelands most rugged, remote and ancient places. We’ll explore Dun Aengus, a cliff-side Celtic fortress that boasts unrivalled views of the Irish coast and Atlantic, then warm up with lots of tea in the local pub.
Students will eat their evening meals together each day except for Sunday which is a rest day/ free time day. Evenings will be interspersed with group games, cinema nights, bowling and attendance at local events.
Accommodation - students will share our amazing student housing that includes a fully stocked kitchen, large bathrooms, two living rooms and 8 bedrooms with spectacular sea and mountain views. All linen and towels are provided.
Breakfast – We keep the kitchen fully stocked with your favorite breakfast items.
Lunch - A wide range of lunch foods are provided, and students have free range over our fully stocked kitchens to create their own lunches.
Dinner (Monday to Saturday) – Students are provided with a home-cooked dinner every day except for Sunday their rest day where they can decide to cook or eat out as they please. We'll also teach you to cook a few of our favorite Irish dishes in our cooking lessons.
Irish Gap Year's support 24/7. Parents and guardians are given a dedicated telephone number to call if they need to speak to their children urgently. Students are also provided with this number and staff are located close-by.
Pick-up and drop-off at Dublin International Airport on arrival and departure
All equipment and transport necessary for all the Outdoor Adventure activities.
All staff conducting activities are fully qualified and trained to undertake the activity.
Fully insured and certified activity providers.
Fully insured and certified transport providers.
All transport to and from cultural sites and other activity locations.
All art workshops and art supplies / materials
All entry fees and taxes in relation to the cultural sites students will visit.
All accommodation in relation to the over-night cultural trips.
All course-work and paperwork in relation to their group projects and the leadership course.
Program all have professional experiential learning experience and occupational first aid if not a higher level.
What's Not Included?
Travel insurance (We recommend Global Nomads)
General spending money (We recommend 100 Euro per week)