TW this article contains brief discussion of suicide
Peering over a computer screen displaying different camera angles of campus, security officer Trevor Ward shared a smile and a hello with the staff and students who entered the front gate security office to clock in or ask for a key. It was a rainy Tuesday morning, and campus was just beginning to wake up. “Over time, you do get to know them, and they get to know you,” Ward said.
Trinity Security is a visible fixture of campus. Their yellow vests stand out amidst the bustling crowds, and their white vans navigate the narrow cobblestone roads. Trinity News sat down with three security employees to learn more about their backgrounds, interests and the journeys that led them to Trinity.
Speaking to Trinity News in the control room of 200 Pearse Street, Dale Maguire said that he prefers the patrol aspect of his job as back-up superintendent. “I’m more outdoorsy,” he said, reminiscing about his experience working as a fisherman in Howth.
Maguire was originally born in Skerries, a place he proudly labelled as the “safest town in Ireland,” but he moved to England at the age of 11. After completing secondary school, he returned to Ireland and “forgot to go home to England.”
When he was 17, he started fishing, and he said it was “really tough” at first. He joked that his favourite part was “being ashore”. “I was on a little wooden boat puking all the time for the first couple of months,” Maguire recalled. “Plus, I came back [to Ireland] at the wrong time, so the nets were coming up with lots of jellyfish.” He said he typically worked 15 hour work days while on his twelve-day fishing expeditions.
In the midst of the labour, Maguire was able to find moments of solace. “One thing you can’t beat about being at sea is the night time and the sky,” he said. “I was just fascinated by the stars.” This feeling of peaceful midnight contemplation is something which he is also able to appreciate in his current job at Trinity. Sometimes, when he’s working the night shift on security from 10pm to 7am, Maguire walks around “with [his] eyes in the sky.”
Maguire started working at Trinity in 2002, originally as a guard in the Ussher Library. After working there for 4 months, he interviewed with Trinity Security and has been working with them ever since. He said that this career switch was motivated by his family. “The kids came along so that was the end of fishing and everything else”, Maguire added with a chuckle.
He also explained that security at Trinity has shifted over the years as the university started outsourcing to private security companies. Maguire estimated that there are about 30 people who are employed directly by Trinity Security. Given the high degree of turnover within the outside contractors, Maguire said that “the community spirit is gone”. He said that in the past, he “knew everybody”. Now, he does not know all of their names.
Despite this, Maguire held that his favourite part about the job is interacting with students and staff. “I always treat them like they’re my own,” he said. “I’ve never had any problem with any student over the years.” Yet, working with students has, on occasion, led to Maguire witnessing difficult things on the job; on the day before his 40th birthday, he was the first on the scene for a student suicide. He said that he “never got over it” because the student “reminded [him] of [his] own son.”
As Maguire was speaking, Garrett Murphy, also a back-up superintendent, entered the control room and relieved Maguire of his post. He’s been working the job for 11 years. Motioning to the live feed from the cameras, Murphy said that some might think of security as “actively doing nothing”. However, contrary to these beliefs, he explained that the stress-reactive nature of their work means that they always have to be attentive and responsive if “something awful were to happen”. The gravity of this critical position is not lost on Murphy. He explained that anything from the control room can be used as a legal document. In fact, he will be a witness in a court case in October.
“Prior to becoming a security guard, Murphy worked in the world of civil engineering as a procurement officer for 30 years.”
Prior to becoming a security guard, Murphy worked in the world of civil engineering as a procurement officer for 30 years. He really enjoyed the job, but as a result of the economic crash of 2012, he was let go. “I thought I was indispensable, but it turns out, I wasn’t,” Murphy said. In his early 50s at the time, Murphy did not think he would get another job. “When you get to a certain age, you don’t have that option”, he added.
When he started for the security team at Trinity, he found that there were many differences from his prior work experience. For one, he will “never get used to working through the night”.
He also added that you’re “not on your own a lot”, saying that he often finds himself in the company of students or his colleagues for most of his day at work. One thing that surprised him about the job is that “people can be pretty honest”. He said that students often lose things, but they have their ways of turning up. “It’s nice to see it”, he added.
Murphy currently lives with his wife in Kildare, and they both love to travel. He said that he’s been all over mainland Europe, and he particularly “loved the colours and aromas” he experienced when he was in Asia. Out of all of the places they’ve visited, Germany is their favourite, so Murphy hopes to retire in Dusseldorf.
Ward, who typically works at the front gate, said that even though he’s stationed at a different location than other security officers, “we all have to work together as a team”. Ward started working with Trinity Security as an attendant in 2010 after Weatherglaze, the window company he worked for, was liquidated. He joined the security team in 2016, and he said that he’s met “so many different people from so many different backgrounds” since then.
“… he remembered working with Hillary Clinton’s team when she came to visit campus.”
In addition to working graduation, Freshers Week, and Trinity Ball, Ward recalled servicing VIP details. In particular, he remembered working with Hillary Clinton’s team when she came to visit campus. “You wouldn’t know what to expect working at Trinity”, Ward added with a chuckle
He also stated that despite students sometimes “trying to push their luck” to get into campus late at night, he’s never had an issue, adding that he’s heard his fair share of interesting anecdotes. “What I laugh about is a story I’ve heard about…a student who hid up a tree one day, the time of the Trinity Ball”, Ward said: “He was up there all day, but he was told to come down later in the evening by security.”
Rare and somewhat comical clashes aside, Ward encourages students and staff to ask security officers for help at any time. “I know a lot of people are pretty shy, especially when it comes to security, but from myself, if anybody needs a hand, we can help”, Ward said.