Surprised at the twelve firm offers he received from universities seeking art professors, Ireland accepted Harlan McClure's opening for an Assistant-Professor in Clemson University's School of Architecture in the summer of 1961.

In his development as an artist, Ireland shared his passion with his students, who saw the influence of John Marin's watercolors evolve into experimentation with new media and materials, such as digging clay from roadside banks and processing these into powdered pigments which were mixed with an acrylic medium. Landscape and seascapes became major motifs.