Carlow native, Garry Keogh has worked as a livestock haulier for Jimmy Burke Livestock Haulage in Co. Wicklow for the past two-and-a-half-years.
A part-time farmer, Garry keeps a small herd of beef cattle on his farm, which is a good advantage to have when entering the livestock haulage trade, although he has changed the way he farms in recent years.
He has chosen not to keep any animals over the winter months due to the cost of keeping them in feed and the time it takes to look after them while they are housed.
Many companies struggle to find drivers, “Nobody wants to drive cattle lorries at all because it has long hours and it’s not a 9 to 5 job,” said Garry, who thankfully loves his job.
He worked with a haulier from the age of fourteen when the teenager would spend his days travelling with the driver and helping to load and unload the animals.
It was doing this that prompted Garry to get his own licence.
“I used to travel every single part of Ireland and it was brilliant,” he said with some enthusiasm. His father used to keep livestock some years back, before managing a farm closeby and this had a major influence on Garry’s upbringing, who says that he likes working with livestock because they are “easy to handle.”
Garry has a good rapport with his employer Jimmy and he added that this is another reason he likes his job. Jimmy’s previous driver retired, and he was finding it difficult to get another driver.
“When he rang looking for me to drive for him, he wasn’t going to keep the second lorry, but he did when I said that I was interested,” explained Garry.
The vehicle that he spends the majority of his time in is a 124 420 double-decker Scania that is approximately 28.5ft in length and is a 4-axle drive that was bought only last year. Jimmy likes to keep his vehicles upgraded and Garry enjoys looking after his machine.
The haulier is happy that his work doesn’t take him travelling into the continent as he gets home most nights. “There might be the odd week where you might have to stay on the delivery, but that really depends on that part of the country you’re in.”
Garry finds that it can be frustrating on the roads when cars do not understand why he is travelling at a slower pace (usually, because he would be carrying over thirty cattle at a time) and he can get verbally abused for doing so.
Drivers have been known to come up behind the haulage lorry and beep their horns, in fact, one lady started an argument with him just a couple of weeks ago.
“She said that I had no right to be on the back road with this lorry,” said Garry. He explained to the lady that he had thirty cattle in-transit and that he couldn’t go any faster for the safety of the animals. “That’s the problem that I’m getting at the moment, but I’m going to drive at the speed that I think is safe.”
He said that there can occasionally be an animal rights protester too, but that does not overshadow Garry’s love for travelling the length and breadth of the country, which he says is the most attractive component of his job.
He finds that being a young single man is compatible with a haulier’s lifestyle, because of the hours, but he joked “I’m married to the truck.”
Jimmy has an R560 Scania that is actually a little smaller than Garry’s, but it is still quite a bit bigger than the tractor and trailer that he started out with.
“He’s such a nice person to work for,” said Garry, "we get on well and he looks after me if I need anything done with the lorry”.
The advice that Garry would pass to others who would like to drive a haulage truck is to get up and go for it. “If you like working with livestock and driving, then definitely go for it as there’s plenty of work out there,” he said.
Garry doesn’t plan on changing careers any time soon and he has many good things to say about his job, the people he meets and the company he works for. For now, he’ll just keep on truckin’.