Billy Burke, gardener
5.50am I tune into the weather forecast first thing. To plan my week, I have to know what the weather is doing, a bit like farming. The recent dry spell has made things tricky. I can’t use a hosepipe so I’m extremely busy with the watering can! Dr Steevens, a former hospital, is on about seven acres. 6.30am I drive from Clondalkin to work, opposite Heuston Station. I’ve worked here for 21 years and with the HSE for 38 years, but I started my gardening career at Newlands Golf Club, where I served my time as assistant green keeper. It was fantastic training because green-keeping is very exacting work and it taught me how to treat grass so that it’s lush and beautifully manicured. 8.30am I break for a coffee. 9am I spend much of the morning cutting grass, using a walk-around mower. I have a ride-on mower also, but the walk-around gives a better cut and a better finish, and it’s more manageable for getting around trees and poles in the grounds. 11am I take a break from mowing to tend to plants in the scented flower bed in the courtyard. I planted it two years ago and I have plans to expand it because it’s brought another level of enjoyment to the garden. Visitors and staff frequently remark on the beautiful scents that are released as they pass by. I go for a lot of colour when choosing flowers because I think colour really sets off the lawns. 12am I spread weedkiller around the paths and lawns. The lawns were badly burnt during the dry spell but I’ve use plenty of good fertiliser to restore them. People are amazed at how quickly I’ve managed to return them to lush grass. 1.30pm I take over security duties to allow the security guard get a bite to eat. 2pm Today, my last task before going home is to trim the beautiful box hedging around the two graves in the grounds. One contains volunteers shot during 1916 and the other contains British soldiers. Relatives come and visit so I like to make sure the graves are well kept. I love my job and get plenty of positive feedback, which is music to my ears. It’s great to have hard work recognised. I won an award two years ago.
“I like to make sure the graves are well kept”