PEOPLE IN the Wexford area may recognise a familiar face on television in the coming weeks as Ballymurn resident Jenny Barr makes her TV debut on RTE's new series, Truckers. The new programme, narrated by Daithi O Se, looks at the lives of Irish truck drivers and couriers, beginning by looking at how the removal industry has changed since the end of the property boom and will feature Jenny and her business Apace Couriers.
Jenny worked in London for a number of years before she decided to move home to Ireland and pursue a career doing what she loved - driving. 'Well it wasn't just a quick choice,' Jenny said. 'I had been working in an office since I was sixteen and had graduated as far as becoming a personal assistant. I worked in London for nearly 20 years and I kind of decided that I wanted to move home. When I came back, I knew that I wanted to be self employed and I love driving, so I wanted my job to focus on that and I came up with two options, either a chauffeur or a courier.'
Driving is something that obviously runs in Jenny's blood as her father and her grandfather were both chauffeurs. However, Jenny opted to take a different route to her family and in 2001 she set up her own business, Apace Couriers. Jenny said 'I originally started the business in Dublin because that's where my family was. But I opted to move to Wexford. We had always been down around Wexford as kids and I really love the area, so I ended up buying a house down here. Unfortunately when I bought the house it was just before the market collapsed and, like many people, now my house isn't worth much at all. But I suppose that's a different story.'
When Jenny started the business, the economy was in great health and as a result her business thrived. 'The first couple of years were a little bit tough, just while I was getting on my feet,' Jenny said. 'After I established myself it went great though. I realised that I really loved the business. I love driving and I love getting out there and meeting people so it was great.' However following the collapse of the Irish economy around 2007, businesses all over the country began to suffer and Jenny's was no different.
'Things started to get tough after 2007,' she said. 'I suppose it's a tough business to be in now. As a courier you need a couple of good strong clients to use your service regularly, but I suppose at the moment all businesses are suffering so it's a vicious circle. I'm still here though, purely because I'm an optimist. I thought, being on my own, if I could just hang in for a couple of years, business would pick up, but so far I'm still waiting for that to happen. I've put everything I have into making a go of this business. I've lost most of my savings, but I'm determined not to let it flop.'
Things picked up slightly for Jenny when she was interviewed on RTE Radio's The John Murray Show. 'John had been doing a business show on the radio,' Jenny explained. 'A feature that he used to have was called 'The man in the van' where he would interview couriers and truckers from all over the country. After a while the show got some complaints from female drivers that there were no women being featured, so he changed it to 'The bean in the van' and I was one of the ones interviewed. It was a great interview and for a while afterwards, business did pick up a bit.'
It was through her involvement with The John Murray show that Jenny was selected to be a part of the new RTE documentary, Truckers.
You can see Jenny on Truckers on RTE 1 on Tuesday, July 24 at 8:30 p.m.