There’s now a clear choice for the easiest route to Ireland from Australia. Etihad Airways offers services from across Australia into Abu Dhabi from where there are twice-daily direct flights into Dublin. etihad.com
Much of the joy of Ireland is in small, out-of-the-way places. You’ll need a car to reach them. All the regular rental operators are in Ireland, including Dublin Airport so shop around. When devising an itinerary expect to average a much slower speed on narrow Irish lanes than you would at home.
WHEN TO GO
Ireland can be delightful outside the peak summer season. It’s also harvest time. In 2017, the Festival Lough Erne, a celebration of the best of local Fermanagh county food, was held in September on the grounds of 600-year-old Enniskillen Castle. festivallougherne.com
WHERE TO STAY
• Belle Isle Castle is a 190-ha estate spread over eight islands that dates back to the 12th century. There’s a range of overnight options — from staying in the castle itself to self-catering accommodation in cottages. There’s also an excellent on-site cooking school. belle-isle.com
• Crom Castle is a grand castle that you may recognise as Blandings in the 2013 series of the same name based on the P. G. Wodehouse book and starring Jennifer Saunders. You can rent the West Wing for a self-catering stay or call on the Earl of Erne to stay in his private halls and be shown the local sights by the Earl himself. It’s not cheap but it comes with butler service. cromcastle.com
GAME OF THRONES
If you are one of the many fascinated by Game of Thrones you may wish to download the Game of Thrones locations app onto your phone and visit some of the many sites in Northern Ireland seen in the series. The series headquarters is down in the Titanic Quarter in Belfast City Centre.
• Tourism Ireland: ireland.com
• CIE Tours: cietours.com