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Estates team dig deep to keep show on the road

Published March 7th, 2018

John O’Rourke got more than he bargained for when he showed up for work as college security superintendent on Wednesday February 28th. That was the day before Storm Emma hit. John, who usually works the shift from 5pm to 7am the next morning, takes up the story.

Snowed in
“When the snow started on the Wednesday, we had lads ringing in to say they couldn’t make it in – they were snowed in where they were. I could have gotten home on Thursday but no one else could get in so a few of us who were here decided to stay on campus.”

John ended up staying in college for four days, to cover for those who were snow-bound and couldn’t make it in. Among those who remained with him were his fellow Estates & Facilities colleagues David Doolan, Barry Dunne, Dave Finn and Gerry O’Connor.

Even though the campus was closed, all residents were still on site, so John and his team had a job to do keeping things safe. And, he says, he couldn’t have been stuck with a better bunch of people.

“All the Trinity security lads are great – they’ve been here a long time and know the place inside out. They’re the kind of lads you can always rely on.”

Anyway, he adds, despite all the disruption, “the snow was actually really beautiful to look at!”

Another member of staff who showed great dedication and commitment during the snow was plumber/chargehand Larry Thornton. Larry lives 15 minutes’ walk from college so was one of the first to volunteer to come in, knowing that the conditions would prevent many others from doing so.

“The management had asked for volunteers – they had anticipated the event quite well and were fairly organised."

Even though he’s a plumber, the first task Larry and his colleagues got stuck into was clearing the footpaths around college.

“I was on call, so was responding to stuff as it came in, but at that point we were mainly focused on clearing the steps of the accommodation.”

A snow plough attachment that goes on to the front of a JCB was used to clear the roads. As the weekend approached, more staff were able to get in to help further.

Despite the obvious inconvenience of the whole snow and Storm Emma event, Larry says, there was a kind of silver lining too.

“When we had cleared all the snow there was a great sense of achievement,” says Larry, “and there was great craic and camaraderie among the lads. Even Brendan Leahy (Head of Facilities & Services) had no problem getting stuck in.”

When something like this happens, he says, it’s great to see people helping each other out.
“With this kind of thing, it forces everyone to stop, which is good, as it brings people together.”

Weddings are usually great events for bringing people together but that wasn’t necessarily the case for the wedding that was scheduled to take place in the college chapel on that first snowy Saturday in March.

With many of the wedding guests unable to attend due to travel arrangements being disrupted, “college decided we’d make every effort possible to ensure the wedding went ahead,” says chapel attendant Joseph Mockler.

For Joseph, who lives in Tipperary, this meant staying up in Dublin from Wednesday onwards. Due to the quantities of snow, it was initially decided that a path would be cleared from Front Gate to the Chapel for wedding guests to make their way through.

“On the Saturday morning though we had managed to clear the snow quite well and a taxi was able to drive the bride in – her wedding car hadn’t been able to get to her.”

Photo (L-R): Ciaran Nestor, David Doolan, Brendan Leahy, Michael Hanrahan, David Brittnell, Larry Thornton, Derek Harford