Ireland was born in the north of Ireland, educated at Belfast Academical Institution and started to study medicine at Queen's University, Belfast before joining the Royal Irish Fusiliers in France and Greece during World War I. He was invalided with the rank of captain. After the war he represented his family linen firm, travelling in Britain, Canada and the United States. In the thirties he decided to pursue a career in writing. He worked for a while as a talks assistant with the BBC. Robert Greacen described him as "something of a white blackbird, that is, an Ulster Protestant - Presbyterian in fact -with strong nationalist sympathies, a sort of throwback to the radical Presbyterians of the late eighteenth century who supported the demands of their Catholic fellow-countrymen for reform". His writing supports this notion. In his work Red Brick City he claimed Ulster Presbyterians to be the only natural republicans in Ireland, he examines the changes that occurred in Ulster Presbyterianism from the eighteenth century on wards. He wrote many articles, pamphlets and books espousing his political ideals. He became a member of the Irish Senate in 1948 until 1951, being the first resident of Northern Ireland to become a member of the Oireachtas. His works include Red Brick City, From the Irish Shore (1936), an autobiography, Patriot Adventurer (1936), a short life of Tone, The Age of Unreason (1942), and Six Counties in Search of a Nation (1947). Ireland died in a Belfast nursing home, 23 September 1974.