Date Published: 18-Aug-2010
Mazda Motor Ireland Managing Director, David McGonigle described the all new Mazda3 as the perfect Japanese choice for customers who dare to avoid the mainstream alternatives. That is the guideline by which this car should be measured and against that yardstick Mazda have got most things right.
We do like our Japanese cars in this country and after a week in the Mazda3 I believe that this car is right up there with the best from that country and also with many of the popular small family cars on the market today.
There is a selection of models like the VW Golf, Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla and Opel Astra that are staples with Irish customers and that is the company that the Mazda3 must match to be taken seriously and this latest model is now right up there in the top tier of the segment.
Mazda chiefs are unapologetic about the origin of the latest version. It was born and raised in Japan. However, that doesn’t mean that it is not suited to European conditions. On the contrary, this car does work on Irish roads. The handling is sharp and exceptionally stable over most road surfaces.
It is bigger, more spacious and lighter than the previous model. That makes it feel quite nippy and more responsive. However it falls down somewhat on internal sound proofing. It is the one criticism I have with this car. That said, I do like the driving dynamics of the new Mazda3 and once you get into a rhythm on a good driving road you do forget all about the din and soak up the delights of this engaging car.
Another great Mazda trait is reliability. You can expect the same quality from the Mazda3. As far as build quality is concerned this car is well bolted together equal to the best German models. Interior materials are of sufficient quality to make the cabin a pleasant enough place to be. You get good solid seats with sufficient adjustment to allow you to find a comfortable driving position as well as ensuring that even the longest journeys can be taken in comfort. The layout is also sensible and well planned.
My test model was the 1.6-litre diesel 4-door Executive. At €22,025 and taking the extensive specification into account this is a good option. Fuel efficiency is claimed at 4.5 l/100km with C02 emissions of just 119g/km. I managed to get 6.0l/100km. That took in a lot of short journeys and some motorway driving. Under the circumstance it is not bad and under the current taxation band it is categorised as Band A, meaning an annual road tax of €104.
All Mazda3 models have ABS, Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Emergency Brake Assistance (EBA), Dynamic Stability control (DSC) with Traction Control System (TCS), Emergency Stop Signalling (ESS) and Bi-xenon headlamps with an Adaptive Front Lighting System available on Z-Sport models.
When you stack the Mazda3 up against the leaders and take everything into account, there is no reason why it shouldn’t be a firm favourite here in Ireland. It looks classy and is not far off the driving dynamics of the Golf and the Focus. It might not be quite as refined inside as the Astra but it does give the Corolla a good run for it and right now it is probably the best Japanese car in this sector.
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
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