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Aran drivers go electric

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Date Published: 12-Nov-2009

Aran islanders this week got their first glimpse of the electric car that could pave the way for a total transformation of life as they know it. T

he first Mega ‘e-City’ three-door hatchback arrived on Inis Mór on Tuesday for residents to test drive. One of their most pressing questions for the accompanying boffins was if this brainchild of French engineers could conquer the island’s notoriously steep hills without the benefit of petrol or diesel.

One thing they know already is that if the car hits its top speed of 64kph they will almost certainly escape the wrath of the law – the speed limit across the three islands is just 60kph.

The electric car, which is about the same size as a Nissan Micra, is one of ten to be rolled out across the three islands as part of a three-year pilot project to see if the wind and ocean can generate enough energy for electricity, heat and transport for a small community.

The project, which is a collaboration between Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) and the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, attracted tenders from 18 companies from around Europe.

From January there will be six cars leased to residents of Inis Mór, two to Inis Meain and two to Inis Oirr, with different households chosen for each year of the project.

Interested motorists must apply to the local co-op, Comharchumann Forbartha Árann Teo, to be accepted, but they must have a clean licence and driving history, they must be under 65 and currently drive a fully taxed vehicle.

According to Fiona Smith of (SEI), successful applicants will have to pay a nominal amount for the lease of the car, around €12, a fee for a connection charge point on the outside of their home, which will be around €330, and then the cost of the electricity to run it. That is likely to be no more than €60 for the year.

The electric car consumes 130 units per km, whereas a similarly sized car such as a Peugeot 107 consumes 520 units per km. Motorists are tipped to save up to 80% in fuel costs.

“It really is a much, much more efficient alternative,” explained Ms Smith. “This could become an alternative to shipping in fuel, making the island more self reliant and sustainable.”

Dara O’Maoildhia, secretary of the energy community on Inis Mór, said his first impressions of the first bright orange ‘e-City’ were extremely positive.

“It’s roomy in the front, there’s no sense you’re up against the window. But in the back I would say there’s room only for two children. It’s got electric windows, reversing sensors, it’s comfortable enough. I’ve no doubt people will be interested in it,” he told the Connacht Tribune.

Queries put to the engineers by residents during their day-long visit to the island included how long the car would run before it needed charging, how long it would take for a car to be fixed and how many charging devices were necessary on the island.

These are all issues likely to be ironed out before the launch in early January.

The energy committees on the three islands have been pushing for more energy efficient alternatives for some years. Inis Mór now boasts an electric post van, while tourists can now rent electric bikes to explore the island.

“Our vision for the island is to have no requirement for carbon fuel of any kind, no need for coal, petrol or diesel so that homes are heated and cars are run on alternative energy. We pay more for coal and more for a gallon of diesel than anywhere in the country – at the moment diesel is €1.06, whereas on the island it’s €1.20,” said Mr O’Maoildhia.

He hopes smart meters will be installed in participating houses within the next three years, which will be attached to the side of the fuse box to monitor the electricity going in and out. Windmills may be built in the gardens and any energy generated will be directed by this smart box into the house to be used in the most efficient way.

“The smart meter will direct the electricity to the battery of the car when the price of electricity is low, but when the price is high, it will be dropped into the electricity grid and you can make a fortune. “At least that’s the plan,” he said.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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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

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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

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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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