A young Donegal woman is paving the way in construction and inspiring others to follow her lead.

Megan Ruddy, aged 23, has had an eventful year of training as an articulated dump truck operator. 

And it was just the ticket she needed for an exciting new start in England.

The Falcarragh woman is loving the opportunities that her skills bring. She just wishes that other girls would realise that they can join the sector too.

Megan’s high-viz uniform is a far cry from the dresses and sash she wore as the 2018 ‘Donegal Mary’ in the Mary from Dungloe Festival, but she is enjoying showcasing the opportunities out there for women.

Megan Ruddy working as an ADT driver in England

Megan took the leap into construction last year, secretly at first! 

“I decided I wanted a different career, so I got in contact with one of my friends who owns a quarry and asked him if could I come to see what it’s like to work with heavy machinery. I loved it. I kept it low-key until I did my ticket and passed it,” she told Donegal Woman.

Megan struck out on her own and drove herself from Falcarragh to Wembley to join Flannery, a woman-owned construction company. By the following week, Megan was sitting in a dump truck on her first job. She has met very few female teammates since she started, she said.

“On the majority of sites you are normally the only girl. When I came over at first I was nervous but a lot of people helped me out. Everyone is nice,” she said.

“You still get people shocked to hear what you do, they might ask ‘What?’ but I take it on the chin.”

Working in an all-male environment has its ups and downs, Megan said.

“There is the mental health side, where you miss the girly talk and catch-ups you would have in an office environment. It’s hard to make good friends when you are moving from place to place,” she said.

“This year I want to try to get home more. It’s easier being in England because it’s not too far. I see so many people my age going to Australia to work, but it was a no-go for me.”

Megan wanted to stay closer to home to be near her dad, Joe. Megan’s mum Mary (née McGee) passed away from cancer in May 2018.

“I wanted to experience life a wee bit away from Ireland, and I wanted to experience something different. Now I’m so glad I did.”

Megan Ruddy from Falcarragh, aged 23

This month, Megan is based in Banbury, working in a 30 tonne truck on the HS2 high-speed railway line. Once the truck is loaded it can reach 60 tonnes. It can be long days, but Megan counts herself fortunate to work with a company that has modern and comfortable trucks.

“They have looked after me really well,” she said.

Megan is giving other women a glimpse of life in the driving seat on TikTok. She posts videos on the app showing her daily work and is gaining a growing following from people interested in construction.

@meganruddy0 ♬ Thunder – Gabry Ponte & LUM!X & Prezioso

“People say fair play to me for being a girl in that industry, because you never hear of it. I think there should be a lot more girls in construction, there are so many opportunities.”

Megan’s goal now is to build her skills further to operate more HGVs, such as tractors, diggers, and dozers.

“I’m so happy I have a year done. When you have the experience, you can go anywhere.”