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S60 is a stylish winner

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Date Published: 11-Jan-2011

Volvo’s super stylish newest model, the Volvo S60 finally buries the rather dowdy image the brand has carried for once and for all.

Things have been changing over recent years but with this model they have arrived at the cutting edge of modern motoring and with it comes one of the most sophisticated technology packages you will find in any car.

I have been test driving the S60 D3 2.0-litre SE Lux, a car that meets challenges the future demands in terms of style, its classy interior and its unrivalled safety package.

We were already fully aware that Volvo takes car safety very seriously. Here we have a car that goes well beyond the norm in terms of protection for the driver, passengers and other road users.

Apart from the regular gadgetry found in the basic model my test car came with a host of additional features making this the safest car that I have driven in this sector. Those add-ons include: Pedestrian Detection, Adaptive Cruise Control with Distance Alert, Queue Assist, Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake that stops the car completely before you collide with an obstacle at regular traffic speeds and a Lane Departure Warning system that alerts you if you drift from you own lane without using your indicator.

All these systems alert the driver audibly and visually through the Driver Alert Control. And, it must be said all work brilliantly. Volvo has also perfected their Blind Spot Indication System (BLIS) to inform the driver if another vehicle or obstacle is travelling in your blind spot on either side of the car. Here the system tells the driver by using a camera at the base of your door mirrors and an internal warning light on the mirror mounting.

To add to my driving pleasure I got heated front seats (Leather all round) and 18” Alloy Wheels that give the car a dominant kerbside look. Wheels apart, the exterior image of the S60 is positively striking. It is clearly the smartest looking Volvo ever.

That high design drift is carried into the cockpit too. Being a Volvo you would expects functionality as standard and there is little to dissatisfy in this car. The quality is first-rate, the leather seats are soft yet firm and the dash board is purposeful without being garish.

On the motorway and the open road it is impressively smooth and ultra quiet. On the more twisty stuff, however, it is not quite up to the mark of some of its rivals. The ride is too woolly. Volvo has set it up with comfort being a priority but this compromises sharpness principally on back roads.

This was brought home to me on the road between Tuam and Athenry, a journey that especially after the recent weather and the damage done requires precision and accuracy, but I was never confident that the S60 was in its natural environment. The bigger wheels may also be a contributor to this uncertainty but the car was never totally composed in the circumstances.

Under the hood, Volvo uses their newest 163hp, 2.0-litre D3 engine. It is not phased at all by the job at hand. You get plenty of punch, decent pulling power at low revs and a sweet, hushed delivery at the top end. I used 7.4 litres of fuel for every 100kms and CO2 emissions are measured at 139g/km. That puts the car into Tax Band B and €156 per annum road tax.

Prices for the range start at €32,250. My test car with all the extras comes in at €43,377. It may seem to be a hefty premium for the add-ons, some of which I could do without, but that’s up to the individual. The safety items listed above are not overly taxing, costing €2,402 of that additional outlay.

The Volvo S60 certainly does look the part. It will carry you and your family in splendid style and utmost safety while turning heads as you pass by. However, from my viewpoint it falls just a little short in driving dynamics compared to some of it main rivals.

 

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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