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A (Grand) Scenic surprise



Date Published: 11-May-2010

I like surprises, especially when you get them from an unexpected source. Every now and then something comes along that warms the heart and restores the faith a little. This week the new Renault Grand Scenic provided that kind of surprise for me.


If nothing else this week’s test drive in the new Renault people carrier taught me not to have preconceived ideas. My memories of the last Renault Grand Scenic is of a wallowing space vessel that provided unspectacular family motoring. Ok this new version is not overly spectacular either but it was a pleasant experience that shoots it up the scale of MPV vehicles out there. It is beautifully screwed together, has some quite brilliant features like the dash display unit and the moving centre console between the front seats and the low slung rear tailgate that makes putting stuff in the back so easy.


And here’s another thing: Renault has put a bit of sturdiness into the Scenic which was absent in the past with many of their cars. The seats are firmer, the suspension is tauter and the overall build is more muscular even down to the solid clunk when you shut the door. Yet, Renault engineers have managed to hold on to one of their long-held traits: comfort. This spacious, luxurious seven-seater proves that you do not have to compromise on comfort for better driving dynamics.

Ok, the mix is not absolutely perfect but it is damn close.

I tested the 1.5 dCi 106 TomTom Edition, which comes with the most up-to-date TomTom satellite navigation system built in. The screen is colourful and clear and it is simple to navigate. Indeed the whole information display is very colourful and clear. This is a triumph for Renault. I can see others trying to follow. Pity the sat nav screen is a little far away from the driver but then again that lessens the intrusion like some other systems. Also, I did miss a rev counter which the car doesn’t have.


I have always liked the performance of this diesel engine in Renault and allied Nissan cars. In some applications it does struggle but not so much here. Although it won’t take your breadth away it is quiet at home and it is mated to a six-speed gearbox that is well spaced and pretty smooth. Zero to 100/kms will take you a leisurely 13.4 seconds while in this specification CO2 emissions are 135g/km with fuel consumption promised at 5.1L/100kms and delivery during my test 6.6L/100kms.


From a passengers view point those in the back will have few complaints. There is lots of headroom even in row three. That said row three is tight but better than many in this category. When upright there is some luggage space behind this row but when flat that space is substantial. The second row is well spaced and there are ISOFIX child seat mounting points on all three 2nd row seats ideal for those with young families.


Renault in Ireland has been on an impressive upward curve in terms of sales. Their prices have been slashed across the range in an attempt to raise the brands profile after a couple of dire years. They are now fourth in the sales charts behind Ford, Toyota and Volkswagen. That is a healthy place to be and even if Renault has cut margins to the limit, market share is very important for the brand. But apart from price at all, the overall ability and all-round quality of the Grand Scenic might have surprised me somewhat but it has been a pleasant surprise. The Renault Grand Scenic prices start at €21,590 for the basic 1.6 petrol rising to €25,690 for the test car which is the top of the range. Those prices will also be a surprise to many.


Gerry’s Rating: 8.0/10


Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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