Most children have dreams to be something great when they grow up. Many dreams change with time and others are just unrealistic, but for some, like John Murphy from Co. Cork, he managed to turn his dreams into a reality.
“I remember as a young fella, they started selling milk in bulk in the Glenville area in 1972. I was just six-years-old, and I remember thinking, I want to drive that” recalled John. That was it, he just knew that he wanted to be a driver.
He grew up on his parent’s farm with his brothers, Frank, who now milks cows; and Finbarr, Jimmy and Dermott, who work together as silage contractors, but also each own a farm.
John was working with Dairygold until he became a self-employed stone mason. This career was going well for eight years until the economic crash happened in 2010 and his business folded.
It was then that John decided to pursue his career as a haulier. John is not one to sit idle, so he got his truck licence and never looked back. Since then, John has done his fair share of driving over the years.
“I drive for Murphy Transport in Ballinlough Co. Cork since about 2015,” said John. Before that, John had driven for Trinity transport in Dundalk, O’Leary International Ltd in Cork and for Cappoquin, collecting live chickens from farms. “The most difficult thing about that was the smell,” laughed John. “I grew up in a farm, so I got used to that quick enough,” he said.
John currently drives a DAF 460 for Murphy Transport, but is excited about his new mode of transport, “I have a new truck on the way, it’s going to be a DAF 530” he said.
John’s wife had a friend visiting and she was showing pictures that her son, James Foley, had sent home from his harvest work in Canada. As soon as John clapped eyes on the photos, he said: “I want to do that”.
Mrs Foley put the word in for John in December 2017 and by April 2018, John arrived in, Canada. “All I needed to go was a licence, no criminal record and a bit of experience driving a truck. That was it” said John, chatting about the paperwork he needed to provide.
John got his first driving experience on the 33,000-acre farm in a tri-axle, double-drive Mack Truck. “Everything there is a double drive,” said John. In the springtime, John’s main job was taking seed and fertilizer to the drills.
The trailers were also tri-axle and consisted of three compartments, John explained that “you could have two types of fertilizer and one type of seed in the trailer”.
In the harvest time, John was operating Super-Bee units “that was a tractor unit pulling a trailer, pulling another trailer” he offered. The gross weight of those units is sixty-two tonnes. They were licenced for agricultural purposes only and could be fuelled by agricultural grade red-diesel. This was kept under strict watch by the other hauliers on-site.
The hours on the large farm were long, “In the springtime, you’d be aiming to be getting up at about five o' clock in the morning and you wouldn’t finish until midnight,” explained John.
The cold winters in meant that sowing didn’t begin until all the frost was off the ground. As well as retrieving diesel for the day, the trailers needed to be loaded up and brought to the field. “You’d have to get your seed in fairly promptly,” said John, as he explained that there were only eleven framers for the sowing.
The only respite came in the form of a Sunday lie-in, where the farmers had until eleven-o-clock in the morning before hitting the fields.
Of all the various cabs that John has sat in, he still has one firm favourite, “I drove a Volvo 460 for Trinity Transport in Dundalk, and I think it was the best truck ever. I took that down to down to Catania in Sicily and I’d do that again in the morning”.
John does insist that there’s nothing wrong with DAF Trucks either - “We carry a lot of Tar and Bitchumen for the quarry’s and we do a lot of chemicals, DAFs are good for that”. Every now and then John travels to the continent as part of his job.
He finds himself in Germany about once a month for Murphy’s and enjoys it very much. “If I was told to go anywhere, any country I’d go” he smiled.
John has a bit of advice for anyone who would like to do a harvest season in the huge farms of Canada or the USA, “Be prepared to work hard, it’s not a doddle, he warned. John described the place where the farm is Saskatchewan as “fairly desolate”.
He also explains that driving is very tiring, but he finds that chewing something can help, even if it only a bit of plastic.
Asked if John would consider a return to farming this year, the fifty-eight-year-old responded: “In a heartbeat, there’s nothing like it”.
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