Explore Ireland's Scenery & Castles

Andy Ung
January 16, 2024

Exploring the Emerald Island

Leading my first Under30Experiences trip was exhilarating. Our group formed so many lasting memories, carved new experiences, and created new, long-lasting friendships. 

Ireland is a beautiful country filled with history, scenic landscapes, cathedrals, castles, Irish folk music, and of course…Guinness.

Our first pit stop was at a vibrant coastal town, Howth, grabbing breakfast at The Country Market. This place was lovely because it made you feel right at home with the décor of books and the smell of pastries in the morning. After waking up with some Irish Coffee, we were ready to take on the Howth Cliffs. During our one hour of hiking, we had a stunning view of Lambay Island, Ireland’s Eye, and the Bailey’s Lighthouse. This was just a taste of beauty the Emerald Island has to offer. Fortunately for us, we had 5 days of exploring to do.

Taking a stroll on the Howth Cliffs, the view was incredible!!

After wandering around the streets of Howth, it was time to head our beautiful home for the week. It is called, The Butler House, and located in gorgeous Kilkenny. 

Kilkenny Castle stands right behind the Butler House where it was occupied by the Butler Family. Walter Butler, 16th Earl of Ormonde, built this mansion for his wife, Eleanor, when their son John inherited the title of of the 17th Earl of Ormonde.

Home sweet home. Staying in a mansion...Can't beat that.

Beautiful Castles Everywhere!

When in Ireland, visiting a castle is on the must-do list. In this case, we spent the whole day checking out the Blarney Castle. As we climbed up the steps seeing each room we passed by, we finally reached the top that overlooked the entire castle grounds. A sight to behold indeed. From there, we were held upside down to kiss the Blarney Stone where it is said to give us the gift of eloquence.

Look at all these beautiful people...Oh yea, there's the Blarney Castle too

Walking on the castle grounds filled with flowers and trees, I can say it truly relaxed me to be in this beautiful area. In a sense…I felt like I was in Game of Thrones, where we walked and talked through the gardens in Westeros. Then, as soon as we found a tree to climb, the kid in all of us wanted to climb.

This tree was MASSIVE.

Wicklow Mountains National Park & Glendalough Monastery

Ireland has six national parks within the country. Talk about greenery. 

With over 50,000 acres of land, we hiked through the Wicklow Mountain National Park, home of the Glendalough Monastery where the hermit priest, Saint Kevin, lived back in 6th century of Ireland. Honestly, this was by far one of my favorite places to visit due to the spectacular view of the lake from the top.

When we descended, we came upon this incredible lake. It was a surreal experience.  

I can just sit here and listen to the birds all day.
Check out that view!!

Oh and of course…when there is a tree to climb…we climb!!

We found another tree to climb!!

Biking Through Kilkenny!

Exploring castles and national parks are exciting but there is so much to learn in our own backyard. A few travelers conquered their fears of riding a bicycle through the busy streets of Kilkenny. As we explored, we learned about the history of this remarkable country from its cathedrals and castles to the infamous story of Petronella. We even managed to lose ourselves within the woods only to find an old building filled with life.

Conquering our fear of riding through the city.
Look Mom!  One hand!

Hurling In Ireland

While in Ireland, one must try one of the oldest sports of the country. Hurling has been played for over 3,000 years with a wooden stick called a 'hurley' and a single ball called 'sliotar'. 

I commend the Irish people who play this game due to its intense competitive field, accuracy, power, and just downright guts to swing a wooden stick with several men on the field, trying to score a goal. These athletes are tough as nails. Fortunately for our inexperienced crew, we just practiced the drills and had a friendly game at the end. The winning team got a free Guinness! My kind of game...

Eric defending his goal. He is ready to take on all comers.

Exploring Kilkenny

Kilkenny is full of lively places as well. Taking a little stroll down High Street, led us to the Saint Canice Cathedral. Built in the 13th century, it became the second largest cathedral in Ireland. Right next to the cathedral stood a tall, round tower built in the 9th century. 

Climbing the top rewards its visitors of overlooking all of Kilkenny in one breathtaking view.

On top of the world! Well, Ireland at least.

If you are into breweries, the Smithwick's Irish brewery stations its home only 5 minutes away from the Butler House. Here you learn the history of one of the most famous beers in Ireland. At the end of the tour, a Smithwick's beer is waiting for you.

We are all listening to the tour guide...I just want a beer.

Of course, we can't forget about the Kilkenny Castle. 

William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, first built this magnificent castle in 1195 only to be finished in the year 1213. It was soon bought out by the Butler family in 1391. 

We were given the chance to walk through this beautiful castle on our free day. After the tour, we settled ourselves in the park on the castle grounds. 

Who can say they had a picnic right next to a castle? U30Xers can. Ending the day with a pint of Guinness, of course.

Incredible group, incredible view, incredible trip. Celebrations were in order.

Under30Experiences isn’t your normal travel company

It’s a movement that brings together 10-15 people to bond over a period of a week to create lasting friendships by experiencing a new culture together. Traveling brings people from all over the world together and the result is fun, growth, and love.

We always say community brings a sense of empowerment and support. The U30X community instills these values and creates an essence of inspiration. 

Thanks to our Community Managers, we are able to form U30X Meetups across the US where U30X Alumni can connect with other like-minded people.

I want to send a big shout out to those who came on the Explore Ireland trip. 

Everyone on the trip was awesome. Each person brought a unique quality to the table which I loved. Through our exclusive U30X Alumni page we will be staying in touch and I can't wait to see you all on another trip!! Big thanks to Eric who helped me lead these trips, becoming a mentor during the 2 weeks we were in Ireland.

Capping off the night with this view. And maybe 1 more Guinness.

So what are you waiting for?

Explore Ireland has been gaining a lot of attention from our travelers and for good reason.  You have to see this magical country.

Andy Ung
Andy is an Adventure Leader and Photographer. He has backpacked throughout Central America and parts of South America. His passions lies in dancing, fitness, photography, and creating connections with people. 


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