Local mum and grandmother Sue Ireland has lived in the Sutherland Shire for more than 40 years and is a pillar of the community in every sense; working as a learning support officer helping children with intellectual disabilities, and supporting adults with disabilities. Sue also is passionate about getting behind the lens, capturing precious moments for local families, from newborn and birthday shoots, to family portraits and weddings. She has her own photography studio, Sue Ireland Photography in Caringbah. We chat with Sue about her busy life and all that she loves about The Shire.
Where and how long have you lived in the Sutherland Shire and what do you love about it?
I grew up in the St George area and travelled by train for an hour nearly every weekend to Cronulla, I just loved the beach all year round. I married David Ireland, Cronulla Dive School’s Owner and Scuba Diving Instructor and started my life in the Shire. I have lived in Cronulla for 40 years, always as close to the beach as I could be.
Tell us about yourself and your family
I have a few jobs; I work as a School Learning Support Officer in a local School, a Receptionist at Fitness First Wanda Beach, and work in Adult Disabilities, but my real passion is photography, I have my own business called Sue Ireland Photography.
I photograph newborns and toddler cake smashes, weddings and families.
My husband produces Wildlife films and he is the main reason I became interested in photography. Once, on location with him, I looked through the lens of his camera and it opened up a whole new world for me.
David and I have for grown-up sons, Luke, Adam, Nathan and Jason and four grandsons Oscar (6), Harvey (4), Alfie (2) and Leo (10 months).
What does a typical day look like for you?
Wow, depends on which day of the week as every day is different! Often it starts or ends with a session at Fitness First gym, then off to work at the school helping kids with disabilities in the classroom which I find very rewarding.
After that, I’ll look after dinner, then start editing client images late at night. I just love the creative stuff, it doesn’t feel like work to me!
I minded all my grandkids once a week, up until they started school or pre-school. And, now I am looking after the youngest, Leo. I look forward to taking him to the beach, on long walks, listening to music, reading stories, and just chilling at home. I get so much enjoyment from this and it allows his mum to get back into the workforce part-time.
Favourite park and why
I love Wanda Beach Park. I can play with my grandkids on all the equipment and then go down and play in the sand and surf with them. It brings back so many memories of my teenage years and my own children learning to surf there.
Favourite thing to do with your grandchildren and why
Cronulla Library is great for Story Time. I have always believed in the power of books, so for me this is a fabulous introduction for them to love to read. I had my youngest son, Jason when I was 40 and he was ‘difficult’. I realised that I could calm him down with books, so every week we would go to the library and get 10-20 books. When he was doing it tough we would just go into a quiet space and read. It worked almost every time.
Favourite local restaurant or favourite night-spot and why
I absolutely love Montien Thai in Cronulla. The food is terrific, it’s BYO and isn’t expensive. It also has two function rooms upstairs – we have had many birthday parties up there which is great as the kids have room to run around and have some fun.
Favourite wet weather location or rainy-day activities with grandchildren
I love Madagascar Playland and Café in Caringbah.
Tell us about your work
I work in a local School with kids with learning difficulties including Down Syndrome and Autism. I really enjoy working in this space.
Photography is my passion. I love to photograph newborns and their mums, dads and siblings at precious moments in their lives. Weddings and organised family shoots are also hugely rewarding.
Motherly advice on how to stay sane
Do something for yourself each day that makes you happy. Mine was exercise as it keeps my endorphins going and keeps you fit.
Funny mum/grandma moment
OMG I have so many. Many years ago my husband was making a film on Crocodiles in Wyndham, WA. It was about 7pm at night here in Cronulla, and David called me to tell me that he had just shot some amazing footage of crocs feeding from his cage at a place called the “blood drain”. At the same time the kids started pelting each other with oranges from the fridge and smashed a huge and expensive lamp into a million pieces. Since my husband had waited a very long time in a queue to tell me about his success (there were no mobile phones back then) I couldn’t do anything about it at the time.
What makes you lose your shit?
I don’t get rattled too easily so I asked my son Jason this one. When I come home from work knowing that I have left things tidy and clean and I walk in and the kitchen is a mess; that’s annoying! Another one is when I have asked the family to always leave a small amount of milk for a coffee in the morning and I wake up and there is no milk! Cranky!
What’s something not many people know about you?
When I was very young, I travelled in Europe in a Kombi Van for almost two years (which was very unusual back then). When I returned, I met up with David, dated him for six weeks and was married six weeks later. And no I wasn’t pregnant. I was so busy planning our wedding that unfortunately I didn’t think about any medications I needed to take.
Then we went to a very remote area of the Solomon Islands on our honeymoon and I got extremely sick. I could hardly walk onto the plane and when we arrived back to Australia I had to go straight to Sutherland Hospital. I was diagnosed with suspected Malaria. It took months to get over. Not a great start to a marriage, but we have lasted for almost 40 years!
Favourite local shop or business
I like to support the local businesses, Hazards in Cronulla sells Tigerlily products, and they have a great range there. If I want something really special and want to spoil myself, I go to Roar.
What’s the best product/service you can recommend since becoming a mum/grandma? (for kids or you)
Love to Dream Swaddles are fabulous, mums and bubs movies and not to forget disposable nappies – when I had my first baby we had to wash and soak them all. Thankfully those days are gone.
How have you seen things differently since becoming a Grandma?
Being a Grandma is fabulous as I have a wealth of experience, but also, I love the ladies my sons have chosen to share their lives with. I love to ask them questions and learn new things so I can learn and grow with my ever increasing family. It can be tiring after spending a day minding them, so the parents can go to work, but it is so worth it. I’m happy that I’m able to stay fit and healthy too.
Anything else you would like to share with us?
I think it is fantastic how men are so hands on now and share equal parental duties and share the household chores.
Would you like to share your local #mumlife with us like Sue has?
If you would like to feature as our next ‘Local Mum’ we would love to hear from you! Please tell us about yourself here.