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Small Talk with Barry Lupton of O’Brien Landscaping

Barry Lupton of O'Brien Landscaping speaks to Barry about his career beginnings, industry challenges, and hopes for the future of Irish horticulture



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25 June 2024

In association with Tully Nurseries

At Growtrade, we’re running an interview series titled ‘Small Talk’, where we talk to various influential members of Ireland’s horticulture trade. This month’s conversation is with Barry Lupton, director of O’Brien Landscaping.

How did you get your start in horticulture?

Somewhere between helping my mom in the garden as a kid, realising a career as a Dunnes manager wasn’t for me and meeting the renowned plantsman, David Robinson. He encouraged me to study Landscape Architecture in the UK and gave me the confidence to do so. 

What was one of the proudest moments in your career to date?

Seeing my parents as I received my degree from Writtle College, and then later in Trinity College. They put up with a lot over the years. 

Through teaching, having the privilege to play a small part in so many people’s lives. And subsequently seeing their own career’s blossom. In design, having the opportunity to design public spaces and seeing them being used as intended. 

What was one of the greatest challenges you’ve faced in your career to date?


Give us an example of a recent success you had in your work.

Being asked to become a director of O’Brien Landscaping by two of the most respected people in the industry, Ciaran O’Brien and Peter O’Toole. 

What are the greatest challenges facing the industry today?

Perception, identity, margins, skilled labour access, scale, legislation, costs, geography and a lack of a coherent strategy: to name but a few.

What are the greatest opportunities facing the industry today?

Increased awareness and appreciation, Europe, the biodiversity crisis, climate change, technology, automation, urbanisation, coordination, and strategy. Again, to name but a few.

What advice would you give to someone just starting their career in horticulture?

Invest time in understanding the realities of the actual career and what it involves, before committing to education. You will only know if this sector is for you if you’ve worked in it. 

What are your hopes for the future of Irish horticulture?

That through cooperation and collaboration we can deliver on our responsibilities at the interface of the built and natural world. If we can do that with smiles on our faces and while making a living, I think we’d all be content.

With more than 60 years under their belt, O’Brien Landscaping provides a full range of landscape services, including construction, design, management, maintenance, sports turf, ecology, arboriculture, feasibility, and consultancy.

Small Talk is produced in association with Tully Nurseries, one of Ireland’s wholesale nurseries supplying landscape contractors, garden centres, DIYs and supermarkets in Ireland and the UK. For more visit

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