When Ireland’s housekeeper Norah Kirby provided materials for Muriel Searle’s book on the composer, several of the photographs she chose featured Ireland with a cat at his last home, Rock Mill. Late in life he acquired a Siamese, chosen from a litter of kittens, and seen below. The other one standing on the lawn of the mill is ‘Black Tigger’.
Cats played a role in Ireland’s life over many years. A passage in one of the many letters from Ireland to his sister Ethel finds the two of them reminiscing over cats they had known. They remembered a feline called by the name of Sevaz, and at Sunningdale Gardens, where they both lodged as students, lived a little cat called Kerly.