Hailing from The Mourne County that is Down, Ciara Tinnelly was destined for a career behind the wheel, whether she liked it or not.
It was from a young age that her addiction to trucks was born, having grown up watching her father drive lorries. while her grandfather also had lorries. This is where her adventure well and truly began, with Ciara also fondly remember accompanying her father, Paschal, on some of his many journeys in her younger years.
“My grandfather was a lorry driver and that’s really how I got into it...He actually worked for the man I’m working for now back in 1990,”, Ciara told ThatsFarming’s Kevin. (See picture of Truck driven by Paschal below)
That man is James Quinn, of James Quinn Heavy haulage, a post that Ciara thoroughly enjoys.
When her career began -
Flying the flag for females in the haulage industry can prove challenging, though Ciara revels in it.
She always intended on getting into the profession and says it was her dream to get behind the wheel.
“Anytime I got off I was always torturing Dad to let me go away with him in the lorry. That settled me well into it,”, Ciara laughed.
Although there to help, her father was actually too nervous to let Ciara behind the wheel, until she got her licenses that is. Her career properly began at the age of 21, upon the completion of her rigid driving test. This was followed by the almost immediate passing of the artic license, less than one year later. She now has substantial experience behind the wheel and driving on the continent, having held many driving positions in her career to date.
“When I passed my first test, he was a bit nervous letting me in driving. I was 21 when I got the rigid license and I got the arctic the following year”, she said.
It all began with a job for Browne logistics driving a rigid lorry, hauling refrigerated goods such as fish. From here Ciara progressed to working as an HGV driver for Surefreight. Ciara also worked for Trainor transport livestock express, although approximately eight years ago, a job she carried out whilst working for Surefreight.
“I was actually double manning with Trainor livestock”, she explained.
Such is her experience within haulage, that Ciara even spent time working in the Tara Mines, near Navan in Co. Meath as well as for Kevin Mackin. Between working in the mines and with Mackin's, Ciara also spent time with Curtis continental hauling hanging & boxed beef. She now though works for the company who once employed her father almost 30 years ago, James Quinn Heavy Haulage, a job she has held since March 2017.
“I have been with Jimmy since March 2017. It is actually one of the jobs I said I wouldn’t do, low-loader work, but I love it,”, she said.
“I love getting to the different machines...It is something different every day, it is never the same...You are getting to see parts of Europe as well,”, Ciara added.
This job takes her all over the continent, delivering heavy haulage to countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Austria, Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium, & Germany. She does everything from low-loader work, to hauling agricultural machinery and other unusual loads. As the James Quinn Heavy Haulage motto goes ‘For Awkward Cargo to difficult places’.
“I prefer to work on the Continent and be away. I am usually away, I am actually away three weeks now”, Ciara noted.
Ciara’s partner, Fredrick, lives in Belgium himself and also works in the haulage game, which is partly the reason behind her not making it home as much and feeling so at home on the continent. That being said, she does make the trip home whenever she can and is usually joined by the man himself.
“I park my lorry in his yard, he (Fredrick) owns lorries as well...He hauls compost and stuff throughout Ireland...He owns his own company Fredotrans”, she said.
“Whenever I come home, he comes home with me and spends the weekends in Ireland,”, she added.
Although both in the haulage industry, there are no plans on the horizon for the hauling pair to join forces, though one can never know what the future holds. Ciara currently works with a team of around ten people for James Quinn Heavy haulage, of which four drivers are based on the continent.
“There are four lorries that come to Europe...Then there are about six lorries working at home,”, Ciara explained.
Ciara has also taken her son Dylan on a few cross-continental trips, though it is unclear as of yet whether he wants to become the fourth generation haulier in the family.
"I have also taken my son Dylan on a few trips, but he has only a small interest in trucks", she noted.
Make - Scania
Year - 2013
Model - R560
Drawing Capacity - Up to 44 tonnes.
When asked what truck she would purchase if she had unlimited funds, Ciara was quick to respond and definite in her answer.
“I would love to own a Scania Longline, as then you have all that space inside,”, Ciara laughed.
“You can store a bit more make-up,”, she joked.
The future looks bright for Ciara and other females within the industry. Ciara noted that although you can face certain scepticism, that there are more and more women joining the sector.
“I was at a truck show in Belgium recently and out of 150 trucks, at least 15 of them were driven by women,”, she said.
With regards to her own future aspirations, Ciara is well and truly living her dream already. She notes that she has never been happy than in the position she currently holds with James Quinn Heavy Haulage and has no plans to up-and-go anytime soon.
“I love this job that I am at now, So hopefully I will still be at that”, she said.
Why she loves what she does -
She keeps driving, simply because she is living her dream. A self-professed truck addict, Ciara enjoys every aspect of the game.
“I just always loved lorries and travelling Europe and everything like I’m at,”, she said.
“It’s just like a drug”, she added.
Truck driving, as is usually the case, is embedded into Ciara’s DNA and flows through her blood. Her progression into the industry is admirable and her dedication to ‘All Things Haulage’ is without question. A third-generation haulier, following in her grandfather's and father’s footsteps, as well as flying the flag for females in the industry, Ciara Tinnelly is the unofficial Queen of the continent.
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