A COUPLE who spent their entire working lives at a Dublin hospital have retired after clocking up almost 90 years of service between them.
Margaret (62) and Francis (62) Bolger finished work after 45 and 44 years respectively, and celebrations are kicking off this weekend with former work colleagues.
The happily married couple, who will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in two weeks time, met while they were working in St Vincent's Hospital back in the 60s.
"I loved every minute of it. Like [Margaret] I've seen all the changes. I started off as a porter, and then I became an attendant and I had to handle patients and food. I got to know the patients very well. They were the life and soul of the place," Francis told the Herald.
"It was regarded as a country home back then [when we started], people walked the roads and would come in for a stay for weeks or months," he added.
The couple, who are from Athy, Co Kildare, have seen major changes to how hospitals are run, first by nuns and now by secular management.
"Nowadays I'm not so sure, there are different rules and regulations, and there are new crowds running things. There are a lot of people making decisions that just sit at tables and don't know how things run," Francis explained.
Margaret added: "It was run by the Sisters of Mercy, they were all nuns working there but now there are none. I was in a very old building, a real institution, but then it was upgraded into a state-of-the-art one. When I started we had water boilers and range cookers, and we used to burn turf in it."
Margaret began her working life aged 16 years as a hospital attendant, and she never thought she'd clock up so many years of service. "Never in my wildest dreams. I was only 16 when I was starting and I never did think that I'd stay that long. I started off as a hospital attendant and I ended up as a cook."
She added: "I was more in the kitchen, I was always into the food side of it. When I went in at 16 I couldn't boil an egg so I learned everything in there."
Margaret stressed St Vincent's importance as a vital centre for health care: "It's really a home from home now. The staff and management are brilliant."