Patricia Ireland was born on October 19, 1945 in Oak Park, Illinois, the United States. She is the daughter of James Ireland and Joan Filipek. Ireland’s upbringing was traditional. When Ireland was four and a half, her seven-year-old sister Kathy was killed while horseback riding, leaving the family deeply traumatized. This perhaps played a role in turning Ireland toward a serious career where power and public service went hand in hand.