For the Ireland visa they require you to book your flights and purchase travel insurance before submitting your application. This is contrary to what they suggest on the UK application.
Because you need to go through SWAP if you’re Canadian to acquire the Irish work visa, you will have access to a representative who will help you with things like this. How handy!
You’re fine to book your own flights, but I think it’s best to discuss this with someone at SWAP beforehand. They have some agreements with airlines and can often get good deals that you might not find online. You also want to make sure you leave yourself enough time to get all your documents back!
If you choose to book yourself, make sure you check websites like Kayak and Skyscanner. They’ll give you a good overview of the price range you’ll be looking at around your departure date, as well as an idea of what types of connections are popular, and what airlines fly there. From Vancouver, the most popular options are Aer Lingus via Chicago, British Airways through London, and Air Canada through Toronto.
As for the insurance, you will be required to prove that you have at least one year of insurance purchased before you submit your application. SWAP can advise on this as well, and they offer great packages with many different options, from basic to comprehensive.
You’re in good hands!