This family owned-and-run haulage company – Seán Hegarty & Sons - started in Donegal in 1973. Contrary to the name of the business, the Hegartys - Seán and Mary - have a family of five children with two boys and three girls.
Their eldest daughter Claire is a driver for the company and also works in the office. She is married to another Seán and together they have two girls - Clódagh (7) and Olivia (3). Her brothers John and Brian also drive for the company.
The love of big vehicles and driving goes as far back as Claire’s grandfather who used to own and drive tippers.
Claire vividly recalls going on trips with her father in the cab as a young girl and loved joining him on journeys to the creamery when he was delivering milk to Monaghan.
Claire is a self-described tomboy compared with her two sisters, as she just always enjoyed trucks and cars.
The haulage company do a lot of mixed cargo that can range from carpet or plasterboard to alcohol and everything in between.
Such was her eagerness to get behind the wheel; the Donegal woman had her driving licence application sent off before her 17th birthday to ensure that there was no wait when she did come of age.
Her older brother taught her to drive at a very young age, as is the privilege of many people who grow up in the country, both out of necessity and the access to wide open fields.
Initially, Claire had very few female colleagues and would seldom come across another female driver.
Her hardy personality and experience of meeting lots of truck-drivers through her father’s company, meant that although Claire did get a few funny looks and the odd harsh comment, she was well equipped to take it all on the chin.
“It’s different nowadays,” explained Claire, “there are a lot more female drivers now than when I started”.
In response to a man who suggested that she may be better off stood at the kitchen sink, Claire said, “Until such times that I don’t do what a man does, we can chat then.”
The mother of two knows that as long as she is capable of doing her job well, then any nasty remarks can stay as just that.
Age and maturity have also helped develop her sense of position amongst her peers.
Brexit has the potential to be a logistical disaster for the Hegarty company, for the simple reason that the quickest way to get to Dublin is via Strabane and Omagh.
The haulier has numerous trucks that cross through Northern Ireland daily and this could pose a problem if there is a hard border put in place.
They have many deliveries into the Northern Ireland and this will simply add to the already difficult situation.
The company have a fleet of ten Volvo lorries of various models and Claire has the opportunity to drive all of them as her role involves standing-in for extra runs and covering other staff member’s shifts.
Claire deals with groupage in Dublin from the office while her brother John runs a lot of the logistics for other locations.
Her mother Mary works in the office organising all the paperwork while her father and owner of the company Seán drives every day.
The entire family are involved with the smooth running of the operation including her uncle and brother-in-law. Seán Hegarty and sons employ twelve staff and Claire really loves her job.
But it’s not only big haulage trucks that Claire likes to drive; she was also a navigator in a rally car for many years, taking part in rallies all across the country.
It was during this time that she met her husband Seán. The only thing that stopped the speed-demon in her tracks was when she became a mother.
She acted as navigator to many different drivers and took part in more rallies than can be named. Claire was barely 20-years-old when she first took up the position of navigator.
“If it goes and has wheels, I’ll drive it,” laughed Claire.
Hegarty’s company won Fleet Magazine’s 2019 Haulier of the Year award in the Owner/Driver category and Claire was nominated for the Women in Transport award that same evening.
“It was great to get it,” she said of the prestigious award. It stands to her family that they have a thriving business and that Claire herself has exactly what it takes to excel in the field of haulage.
She said, "I think a key part of our success is our drivers, without their hard work and dedication my job would be a lot tougher".
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