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
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
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
Henshaw and McSharry set to field for Irish Wolfhounds in clash with England Saxons
Date Published: 24-Jan-2013
CONNACHT’S rising stars Robbie Henshaw and Dave McSharry look set to named in the starting xv for the Ireland Wolfhounds who face the England Saxons in Galway this weekend when the team is announced later today (Thursday).
Robbie Henshaw is the only out-and-out full-back that was named Tuesday in the 23-man squad that will take on the English at the Sportsground this Friday (7.45pm).
Connacht’s centre McSharry and Ulster’s Darren Cave are the only two specialist centres named in the 23 man squad, which would also suggest the two youngsters are in line for a starting place.
Former Connacht out-half, Ian Keatley, Leinster’s second out-half Ian Madigan and Ulster’s number 10 Paddy Jackson and winger Andrew Trimble, although not specialist full-backs or centres, can all slot into the 12, 13 and 15 jerseys, however you’d expect the Irish management will hand debuts to Henshaw and McSharry given that they’ll be playing on their home turf.
Aged 19, Henshaw was still playing Schools Cup rugby last season. The Athlone born Connacht Academy back burst onto the scene at the beginning of the season when he filled the number 15 position for injured captain Gavin Duffy.
The Marist College and former Ireland U19 representative was so assured under the high ball, so impressive on the counter-attack and astute with the boot, that he retained the full-back position when Duffy returned from injury.
Connacht coach Eric Elwood should be commended for giving the young Buccaneers clubman a chance to shine and Henshaw has grasped that opportunity with both hands, lighting up the RaboDirect PRO 12 and Heineken Cup campaigns for the Westerners this season.
Henshaw has played in all 19 of Connacht’s games this season and his man-of-the-match display last weekend in the Heineken Cup against Zebre caught the eye of Irish attack coach, Les Kiss.
“We’re really excited about his development. He had to step into the breach when Connacht lost Gavin Duffy, and he was playing 13 earlier in the year. When he had to put his hand up for that, he’s done an exceptional job,” Kiss said.
The 22-year-old McSharry was desperately unlucky to miss out on Declan Kidney’s Ireland squad for the autumn internationals and the Dubliner will relish the opportunity this Friday night to show-off his speed, turn of foot, deft hands and finishing prowess that has been a mark of this season, in particular, with Connacht.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Drinks battle brewing as kettle sales go off the boil
Date Published: 30-Jan-2013
You’d have thought there might have been three certainties in Irish life – death, taxes and the cup of tea – but it now seems that our post-tiger sophistication in endangering the consumption of the nation’s second favourite beverage.
Because with all of our new-fangled coffee machines, percolators, cappuccino and expresso makers, sales of the humble kettle are falling faster than our hopes of a write-off on the promissory note.
And even when we do make tea, we don’t need a tea pot – it’s all tea bags these days because nobody wants a mouthful of tea leaves, unless they’re planning to have their fortune told.
Sales of kettles are in decline as consumers opt for fancy coffee makers, hot water dispensers and other methods to make their beverages – at least that’s the case in the UK and there’s no reason to think it’s any different here.
And it’s only seems like yesterday when, if the hearth was the heart of every home, the kettle that hung over the inglenook fireplace or whistled gently on the range, was the soul.
You’d see groups gathered in bogs, footing turf and then breaking off to boil the battered old kettle for a well-earned break.
The first thing that happened when you dropped into someone’s home was the host saying: “Hold on until I stick on the kettle.”
When the prodigal son arrived home for the Christmas, first item on the agenda was a cup of tea; when bad news was delivered, the pain was eased with a cuppa; last thing at night was tea with a biscuit.
The arrival of electric kettles meant there was no longer an eternal search for matches to light the gas; we even had little electric coils that would boil water into tea in our cup if you were mean enough or unlucky enough to be making tea for one.
We went away on sun holidays, armed with an ocean of lotion and a suitcase full of Denny’s sausages and Barry’s Tea. Spanish tea just wasn’t the same and there was nothing like a nice brew to lift the sagging spirits.
We even coped with the arrival of coffee because for a long time it was just Maxwell House or Nescafe granules which might have seemed like the height of sophistication – but they still required a kettle.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.