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Punto raises eyebrows

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Date Published: 01-Jul-2010

Ten years ago the Fiat Punto was the top selling car in Ireland. How the mighty have fallen in recent years! Even the young Garda at a check point in Tuam during the week – he looked like he was about seventeen -raised an eyebrow when he realised it was the new Punto Evo. That was after he had given me the onceover for my licence and insurance. He is not alone as this is the kind of reaction the Punto gets from everyone you meet. Then again, that’s what you should expect from an Italian designed car. They might be gone from the World Cup but they still have an edge in car creation.

 

Certainly the new Punto looks rather dashing in it new skin. It gives the main contenders in this class a good run for it in the prettiness stakes. Inside too, Fiat has tidied-up the Punto to meet modern standards. It is one of the first things you’ll notice, the stylish new dashboard. There are some hard surfaces in there but they are interspersed with some soft-touch panels on the dash and in the doors and some classy control panels, especially in the centre console and around the main display areas.

 

Accommodation too is decent. The seats are sturdy and the space is equal to the best in this class. You get a decent roof height and the specification of the test model, the Punto Evo 5-door 1.2 Dynamic includes Blue&Me Bluetooth, Air Conditioning, Leather steering wheel and a host of other details. All the Audio controls and the Bluetooth controls are placed on the steering wheel, which is a safety detail not always offered by some of the opposition. The test car also came with a Style Package including Adaptive front fog lights, 15” alloy wheels, metallic effect side mouldings and bumper inserts.

 

Safety levels too are a match for the competition with seven airbags and it is one of the few cars in its class to provide a driver knee bag as standard across all trims. As well as the usual ABS, EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution) and ESP (Electronic Stability Program) systems, there are other useful features such as the Hill Holder system, which helps the driver with hill starts by keeping the car stationary for a few seconds in order to prevent it from rolling backwards, and the adaptive cornering front fog lights that come on automatically on dipped beam according to the steering angle.

 

Driving the Punto Evo shows that Fiat are on the money too. For such a small engine, matched to a five-speed gearbox, the car is sprightly enough with precise handling and decent cornering. I would like the steering to be less vague and with a little more feedback. Around town it is fine but it is too light on the open road and not as sharp as the Fiesta or the Polo, for example.

 

The engine is eager and surprisingly refined for a 1.2. CO2 emissions are 135g/km while petrol usage achieved reached 7.0L/100kms. There is the option of Fiats 1.3 MultiJet that might just be a better option. However, for most discerning drivers this version is more than adequate. Compared to some of the opposition it is actually very good indeed.

 

Fiat continue to sell the older Grande Punto alongside this new car for about €1,000 less. At €15,915 – base price is €14,995 – with all that the test car has added; the new Punto Evo is priced to be really competitive.

Fiat maybe get bad press for reliability and poor resale valuations in the past. However, Fiat demonstrate their own faith in this car and they offer three different warranties. The Punto Evo is backed with a 3 Year Warranty, 3 Year Paintwork Warranty and an 8 Year Anti- Perforation Warranty. Only time will tell if that kind of confidence is justified. However, we are now living in more stringent times, just like ten years ago and perhaps like then, this could be a new era for the Punto Evo.

 

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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