Although not born into an agricultural holding, John Dineen still experienced some of what the industry had to offer as a young man raised in Galbally, Co. Limerick. The 46-year-old reminisced of his youth spent helping his neighbours at hay and silage, with machinery always to the forefront of his mind.
“We live in the countryside.” John said to Kevin of That'sFarming.
“When I was younger, growing up I worked with local farmers at the hay and silage and that.” He added.
His main passion in life, however, is and always has been trucks. This is due in part to his father, Dave, who has worked within the haulage industry since 1979, driving a tipper truck for Gleeson Quarries on the owner-driver scheme. John’s father still drives to this day at 71-years-old, with no plans to stop anytime soon.
“My father has a truck. He has a tipper truck with Gleeson Concrete in Tipperary.” said the 46-year-old.
“He is there since around 1979 or even before.” He added.
This is where John himself gained the interest in lorries and the Limerick man fondly remembers the day his father bought his first-ever truck, a Ford D1411 single axle tipper truck. A day which had a significant impact on the future of a then very young John.
“I can remember to this day when he (John’s father) bought his first truck.” John reminisced.
“It was a Ford D1411. It was a 1979…I remember the day he bought it, I met him in Tipperary and we went down to collect it.” He continued.
Always keen to enter the industry even at a very young age, John says he remembers many a night spent out in the garage helping repair the family truck.
“I used to be always helping in the garage, often until one or two o’clock in the morning doing repairs on the truck,” John laughed.
This is not where the involvement ends for the family within the sector either, as John’s uncle (also called John) also ran his own quarry and had his own trucks on the road. This is where John (junior) actually got his first taste of action within the industry, helping out by driving diggers on site.
“My uncle John, he actually had a quarry as well and his own trucks.” The Limerick man said.
“I started off by helping out with him, driving the digger there,” he adds.
(John's fathers truck pictured below)
John’s journey -
Although always wanting to work with machinery in some shape or form, John departed for what is now the I.T. in Limerick following the completion of his secondary education. Here the Limerick native studied a two-year Electronic Engineering course before he then took on his first working role at Shannon airport.
“I went off to college to learn some sort of a trade, so I studied Electronic Engineering.” John explained.
“I finished that in 1992 and then I went working in Shannon…doing aircraft maintenance, the electrics and electronics. I did a two-year training course there.”
This was followed by a period of time working for another company in the locality, Analog Devices. It wasn’t that John disliked what he did, but it was during these times that the want in him to drive lorries grew even stronger.
“I actually spent five years there.” John noted.
“I remember when I was in Aerospace in Shannon, I used to be looking out the back window and see drivers driving a Volvo F10, shunting trailers. I was always looking out, wanting to be outside driving the truck.” he chuckled.
Nine years after leaving home to study Electronic Engineering, John admits that the urge to drive became too strong and he subsequently purchased his very own truck. This was also the year that John first obtained his licence and he hasn’t looked back.
“I just got the itch and in 1999 I bought a truck myself. It was a Volvo Globetrotter.” John said to Kevin of That’sFarming.
This marked the official start for John within the industry and his career began very promisingly and led to John increasing his fleet in size to five trucks strong, under the prefix ‘North Munster Transport’.
“I was working for Gleeson's in it (the truck) and another quarry, drawing sand and gravel.” John said.
“After that I progressed on to have a fleet of five trucks on the road.” He explained.
After many years of business, the downturn began to set in throughout the country and John decided that enough was enough and sold his fleet, not wanting to deal with the pressures any longer.
“I was just kind of getting nowhere with it…I was gone before the crash, but I was finding things hard so I decided to sell up and cut back to one truck.” said the Limerick man.
John then sold his last truck to a local sand and gravel haulier, taking on a driving role for a five-year period with him in the process. After this, John then took on the role which he still holds to this day, driving for O’Neill’s Heavy Haulage in his native Treaty county.
“One day Jimmy O’Neill asked me would I go driving for him. I have been there since 2009 now.” John explained.
Team/Services/History of O’Neill’s Heavy Haulage -
For those of you unaware of the work provided by O’Neill’s Heavy Haulage, they are one of the country’s leading abnormal loads and heavy haulage specialists, having been founded over 70 years ago in 1947.
They operate throughout Ireland, the UK and Europe, working with a varied fleet featuring DAF, Scania and Volvo lorries and a team of five drivers, as well as many other office employees. For John, his role sees him traveling the length and breadth of the country, hauling abnormal, heavy loads of all shapes and sizes, but mainly wind turbines. When on site, John usually acts as supervisor.
“The bigger, the longer, the wider, the heavier the better.” John laughed.
“We are mainly based in Ireland, but we do a good bit of work out in the UK and Europe as well.”
The team of O’Neill’s Heavy Haulage currently have a fleet of eight or nine lorries, from Scania to Volvo and DAF. For John, he is in command of the company’s Scania R620.
“She is a 180-tonner,” John explained.
Other: 8x4, 180-tonne.
Very happy in the role he has held for a decade this year, John has no plans to go back out under his own name in the coming years.
John’s father still drives a truck to this day and John often works as a relief driver for him when needed. Not in the near future, but at some stage Dave will decide to retire the driving shoes, meaning John will be in line to take the reins.
“He is still going strong…Someday he will pack it up and hang up the keys, but I’d say I will be waiting.” John said.
“He is 71 in May and has no notion of packing it in.” he added.
Whatever happens, John is not getting too excited and is more than happy where he is.
“I am happy working as an employee rather than being self-employed again.” He noted.
One thing that is certain for John in 2019, is his involvement in the Lar O’Neill truck and tractor run.
“It’s for Irish Kidney Association.” John said.
Why Haulage -
It is not only the love for the road that keeps John behind the wheel but also a strong passion for the challenging and ever-changing nature of his current role.
“I love this job, it is always something different every day.” John said.
“Any two weeks are never the same.” He added.
He also feels a sense of pride in sharing the same interest within the sector as his father and it brings him great pleasure to know he can keep the family involvement going for many more years to come.
Are you working behind the wheel in the haulage sector like John? Would you like to take a call and be featured in our weekly haulage series? If so, contact Kevin via email on Kforde@thatsfarming.com with a short bio.