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MiTo lives up to Cloverleaf badge

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Date Published: 24-Jun-2010

I’ve been buzzing around all week from post to pillar. One of these days I’ll meet myself on the way back! It is at times like this that you want a smart run-around that isn’t overly complicated and makes the chase fun and interesting. My Alfa

Romeo MiTo MultiAir is just the right car for that.

Ok, it is too small for me; is not really suitable for my lifestyle but then again that is not the purpose of this car.

Alfa says that the MiTo is already a global success story. They sell it in 34 countries and on five different continents and it has won wide acclaim for its style, engineering flair, dynamic performance and driving pleasure.

Now they have added the MultiAir version which is another step-up in technology and they have honoured it with a Cloverleaf badge that carries a certain pedigree. It is a pedigree that Alfa Romeo aficionados will measure this car by, and in modern terms it gives this car credibility. I think it lives up to that honour even if it has its peculiarities.

This is the smallest car in the Alfa range. It was designed to attract young owners and placed in direct competition with the fiat 500, the MINI and other small sporty vehicles.

What’s special about the Mito is that it’s not a replica of anything from history. It is whole new model with Alfa attitude and styling, which is its stand-out feature compared to other compact small hatch cars.

Once inside you can’t mistake the Alfa ambience; a snug, leather clad cabin that is a little cluttered but jampacked with buttons to play with because it’s chock-a-block with kit. passenger space is tight especially in the back and the rear seat doesn’t split for folding making the boot space difficult to use but there is a reasonably amount of space there for small pieces of luggage even when the rear seat is in position.

Under the hood there is the new Alfa Romeo⁄fiat 1.4-litre MultiAir engine that automatically adjusts the amount of air getting into the cylinders and therefore controlling the amount of fuel being used and lowering the level of CO2 being emitted – 139g⁄km in this case.

Driving the MiTo is immensely satisfying. It is tight, grips like a go-kart and delivers a real sporty response through the seat of your pants, the steering and the pedals.

Alfa’s Electronic Q2 limited slip differential together with the suspension layout delivers pin-point handling and crisp handling; just what you want from an Alfa. On bumpier roads there is a bit of twitchiness but not so much as to compromise confidence for the most part.

Another innovative inclusion in the Cloverleaf version is the MiTo’s DNA system which offers three distinct ‘vehicle personalities’ tailored to driving style and the prevailing road characteristics and conditions. Dynamic (sporting), Normal (suburban⁄ town driving) and All weather (maximum safety, especially in low-grip conditions).

A three-position switch, situated beside the gearlever, alters the throttle response and steering set-up for the different driving environments. In Dynamic mode, the throttle response is quicker, the steering is sharper and the handling is more direct. For icy and loose surface environments the All Weather mode provides a more gentle response.

All in all I was quite smitten by the craic you can have in the MiTo. Sure, it is not a car for everyone, me included. It is true too that Alfa Romeo’s banner is flying rather low in Ireland at the moment but that doesn’t take away from the buzz you can get from this charming little car.

Putting its obvious impracticalities and limitations aside, it has been a quite a while since I’ve enjoyed driving a small car so much.

 

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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