Wednesday 7 December 2016

Michelle keeps on truckin' at wheel of mega machine

Published 07/09/2016 | 02:30

Michelle Devitt drives a mammoth Caterpillar
Michelle Devitt drives a mammoth Caterpillar
The truck, supplied by Finning in Rathcoole, can carry up to 75 tonnes of limestone

Michelle Devitt used to work in a lab. Now she drives a giant truck.

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Every day, she helps shift thousands of tonnes of limestone with her mammoth Caterpillar 775G at the Irish Cement plant at Platin, Drogheda. She's been doing so for many years now.

Michelle's story is one of several that came our way following our article last week highlighting how more women would love to drive trucks - on or off road - if they got the opportunity.

For Michelle, from Annagassan, Co Louth, her chance came after redundancies were made at the plant years ago.

She was one of a few who got the opportunity to learn how to drive a truck at the site. The company brought in trainers so she could learn; she passed her test and got her Quarry Skills certificate.

Driving should come almost as second nature to her. After all, her grandfather Paddy McKenna drove a CIE truck out of Drogheda railway station for years. And his grandfather, Thomas Kerrigan, was a (horse-drawn) coach driver.

Which may help explain her deep love of horses. She has plans on that front - but that's for another day.

This is all about her and the massive machine that's her office every day. "I love it. We take its size for granted. It is huge." That's putting it mildly. It is 33ft long, 19ft wide and 15ft high. And it is powered by a 12-cylinder, 27-litre, 825hp, turbocharged, direct injection air-to-air after-cooled diesel engine.

The fuel tank holds around 795 litres (174 Imperial/210 US gallons). She fills it every second day.

Despite its size, Michelle says the machine can "pretty much turn on a sixpence" with minimal effort on the steering wheel.

The truck, supplied by Finning in Rathcoole, can carry up to 75 tonnes of limestone from the quarry face to the crushing plant. It is also computerised, so everything is logged at headquarters - including how much is loaded and shifted.

It's a long way from the lab to the cab, but Michelle has enjoyed the journey.

Why not tell us your story? ecunningham@independent.ie

Irish Independent

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