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ILE Team

With nearly 80 years of combined experience leading students and groups to Ireland and all over the world, the Irish Life Experience team has the knowledge and the “know-how” to make each and every student’s experience an unforgettable one. Nearly all of our team members have once participated in our summer study abroad program in Ireland as students and have continued on to lead groups and become part of Ireland’s only fully-integrated, cultural, and academic program for North American students.

This combination of experience and knowledge guarantee an exciting educational trip for any student.

 

Taryn Harrison

President & Founder-Polson, Montana

Hailing from Polson, Montana, Taryn was bitten by the travel bug at an early age. At sixteen, she had the opportunity to participate in a summer study abroad program in Ireland. After graduating from college, Taryn served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kyrgyzstan. Before being evacuated after 9/11, she worked in a small Muslim village teaching English to 5-11 graders. Upon returning to the States, she decided she needed a change of pace and moved to Ireland for a year, where she immersed herself in the tiny town of Camlough, Co. Armagh. Since her return to the States, Taryn has been taking high school and college students to Ireland for over 19 years. She has dedicated her life to sharing her knowledge and love for Ireland with young adults, combining education, travel, and fun. In her spare time she loves spending time with family and friends, hiking, running, skiing, singing, traveling and cheering for Gonzaga basketball.

E-Mail Taryn at [email protected]

Bryan Lewis

Chief Operating Officer-Boston, Massachusetts

Born in San Francisco and raised in Minneapolis, Bryan is now settled in Boston with his wife, five children, two birds, one frog and one dog. Bryan is the President of Tenon Tours, one of North America’s leading tour operators and the official travel partner of the Irish Life Experience. Bryan met Taryn through Vinnie Lewis (below, no relation) who assured the two that they were a match made in heaven, sharing a passion for enhancing lives through travel. Vinnie was right and they’ve been thankful for the introduction ever since!

E-Mail Bryan at [email protected]

Gerardo McBarrera

Chief Financial Officer-Boston, Massachusetts

Gerardo McBarrera was raised in Cancun, Mexico and relocated to the US in the late 90’s. His journey began in the travel industry 18 years ago when he joined as Accounting Manager for Studentcity.com and gradually became Chief Financial Officer of the parent company, TUI Education North America. Gerardo lives in Boston with his wife, Shannon, and their two boys-ILE candidates in ten years.

He loves Coco Bongo and the Taco Factory in Cancun, dancing to the Whip, and is looking forward to starting the Mexican Life Experience with Taryn.

He joined the Tenon Tours Team last year and is the Co-Founder of Go Blue Tours. He is excited about his new role of Chief Financial Officer of the Irish Life Experience and is looking forward to coming to visit the Emerald Isle and seeing the Program in action.

Say Hola to Ger Ber and give him a big BUENO BAM shout out!

Angie Mervyn

Program Director-Belfast, Northern Ireland

-I was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland-home of the famous ship that sank.
-I was educated at St. Dominic’s High School in Belfast and University College Dublin.
-When I was a child I wanted to be a Charlie’s Angel.
-I actually become a teacher.
-Worst job I’ve ever had was dressing up as an elf to do marketing for a drinks promotional company.
-Best job I’ve ever had is working with the Irish Life Experience.
-The bravest thing I’ve ever done is a parachute jump for charity.
-The stupidest thing I’ve ever done is a bungee jump the day after I graduated from college.
-I’m very bad at walking in stilettos.
-I’m very good at falling over when I walk in stilettos.
-I’m most proud of the work of the Irish Life Experience and the students who come every year-they never cease to amaze me.
-The last book I read was “The Snowman” by Jo Nesbo.
-My favorite movie is Casablanca.
-The song that makes me dance is Dancing Queen by ABBA, as the Irish Life Experience students will know this from our bus rides.
-The best place I’ve ever been is Boston. I was there in March of 2012 for an Irish Life Experience Reunion and it was fantastic. The people are friendly and the city is beautiful.
-If I could describe myself in five words, they would be funny, hardworking, honest, loyal, and sociable.
-If I could invite five people-living or dead-to a dinner party, they would be Jamie Oliver (a famous chef) for the cooking, Des Bishop (Irish American comedian) for the craic, Taryn Harrison (from the Irish Life Experience) for being one of my best friends, and Spike Milligan for the stories and Bob Dylan for the music.

Based in Ireland with over 19 years experience in leading student groups.

E-Mail Angie at [email protected]

Shona (AKA Scones) Linehan

Program Manager and Teacher-Mallow, Ireland

Born in Cork, it was only natural that Shona started playing GAA from a very young age training for both local Camogie and Gaelic football teams. Shona’s interests gradually changed to Irish Dancing and over the years has gone from strength to strength competing in championships worldwide. Shona spent her summers growing up in Gaelcholaistí (Irish language summer schools.) on the southern coast of Ireland. Having spent so long being a student, Shona began working for a Gaelcholaiste in County Kerry. Having met Taryn through Tenon Tours in 2011 Shona jumped on the chance to get involved in the ILE and is beyond excited to teach Irish to this year’s students and give them the same experience that Irish students get each summer.

When not busy with ILE Shona is working towards a PhD and teaches university students in a range of subjects. She is eagerly awaiting more summers, where she will get the chance to meet many more ILE students and help make this experience unforgettable for them.

Vinnie Lewis

Staff Director-Boston, Massachusetts

Originally hailing from New Jersey, Vinnie left the Garden State for greener pastures-two of them actually. It began with a study abroad experience at the University of Limerick in Ireland, which exposed him to life in the Emerald Isle and a passion to share travel experiences with others. Upon returning, he worked at StudentCity.com during the year and spent his summers as a Counselor extraordinaire for the Irish Way Program and the Irish Life Experience. After eight years of living the dream, he finally settled down outside of Boston, Massachusetts. He is married to the lovely, Jenna and they are looking forward to coming to visit the Irish Life Experience in the summer.

“I found myself in Ireland. It has helped shaped who I am and what I hope to be.”