Irish Gap Year Recognised for Innovation in Gap Year Programming

Donegal business, Irish Gap Year, has won the 2020 Annual Award for Innovation in Gap Year Programming. The Bundoran based company was founded by Killian O’Kelly and Ryan Allen, two outdoor enthusiasts and educators who, between them, have many years of outdoor education experience. Irish Gap Year is a small Irish company that provides cultural and adventure gap year and summer teen programs for young people from the US. The business employs nine people and is one of only a few gap year providers in northern Europe.

Accepting the award on behalf of Irish Gap Year, Killian O’Kelly said: “We are delighted to be recognised by the Gap Year Association with this award. 2020 was a tough year for everyone but we worked quickly to implement Covid-19 protocols to ensure our students continued to have a safe and enjoyable gap year experience. The protocols we put in place were subsequently adopted by gap year organisations around the world. This award means a lot to our team, but the ability to continue working with young people and their parents to fulfil their goals to become independent, resilient and confident people is the greatest reward of all.”

Congratulating Killian and his team, Michael Tunney, Head of Enterprise Donegal said: “Well done to Killian and all the team at Irish Gap Year on winning this award; it’s great recognition for the hard work and effort they put into their business, particularly in the last year when Covid-19 has made everything that bit more challenging!”

Killian’s passion for outdoor sports and life on the west coast of Ireland brought him back home to set up a business in Donegal: “We literally spotted a gap in the market” Killian said. “We provide thoughtfully-designed Gap Year and Internship Programs for young people interested in exploring the world, building their independence, and learning more about themselves. The values of community service and personal development run strong in all of our programs and we felt there was no better place to implement them than Donegal.”

“Irish Gap year is based on a wealth of experience in adventure, education and volunteering” Killian added. “Our programs are based on the best practice of the Gap Year Association (formally the AGA) and all programs with participating students are reviewed 6 and 12 weeks into their program. This is done both one-to-one and anonymously; the feedback received during this process is vital for the planning of future programs. Irish Gap Year is also committed to providing financial aid to students that otherwise would be unable to attend a structured gap year program; this is often done in partnership with education consultants and gap year organizations.”

Irish Gap Year has worked closely with Donegal Local Enterprise Office over the years securing a Priming Grant in 2016 and a Business Expansion Grant in 2017. The business also enhanced its online presence with Trading Online Vouchers and availed of a Business Continuity Voucher earlier this year. Find out more here: