On 11 April 1925 Ireland wrote to his sister Ethel of his recent extended trip north, examining and performing in Glasgow, Wakefield, Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester. Perhaps for sentiment’s sake he stayed in Bowdon, finding the place ‘does not seem changed at all – it represents the prosperous mid-Victorian epoch’, and that his birthplace, ‘Inglewood’, looked much the same. While there, eminent German-born cellist Carl Fuchs (1865–1951) played Ireland’s recently-completed (1923) Cello Sonata.
Ireland also took the opportunity to visit his Aunt Fanny in Penrith. Now aged 73, he found her ‘very well & cheerful’. Fanny (full name Frances) was the younger sister of Annie Nicholson (Ireland’s mother). In 1871 she was living in the family home, a fine Cumbrian stone house: ‘Prospect House’, Fell Lane, Penrith along with her father (John) and mother (another Anne Elizabeth). Forty years later, in 1911 she was still single, and still in Penrith, living alone with one servant in ‘Sunnyside’, which may well be where Ireland found her in 1925. She lived to the ripe old age of 89.
The countryside around Penrith itself would have appealed to Ireland for its ancient standing stones, similar to those he visited in southern England in the 1920s.