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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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Jazz, folk and rock-inspired Syd Arthur set to hit the road

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Date Published: 30-Jan-2013

Combining jazz, folk and rock influences, Syd Arthur play Róisín Dubh on Thursday, February 14. The Canterbury-based band are Liam Magill (vocals/guitar), Raven Bush (violin), Fred Rother (drums) and Joel Magill (bass). As he prepares to hit the road with the band, Joel recalls how they met.

“Me and Liam are brothers, so obviously we’ve known each other for a while,” he laughs. “We met Fred, our drummer, at school and started jamming together. Then we met Raven a bit later on, when I was 19 or 20. It went from there, basically.”

Some parents may be wary about their children going the rock ‘n’ route, but Joel and his friends met no such obstacles.

“We were always interested in it, and encouraged at school and by family,” he says. “Later on, the discovery of the Canterbury sound had a big influence on us.”

The ‘Canterbury sound’ refers to a scene that emerged in the late Sixties and early Seventies, spearheaded by groups with a taste for avant-garde and progressive rock music.

 

“I would always think of The Soft Machine and Caravan, and Hatfield and the North,” says Joel. “They’d be the big ones for us.”

In a previous incarnation, Joel and his bandmates went under the moniker of Grumpy Jumper. Why did they change their name?

“That was a long time ago, before Raven was in the band,” Joel explains. We were just playing locally and we made a CD under that name. When Raven joined, we felt like it was a new thing, so time to move on.”

Their new name comes from Siddhartha, a Buddhism-inspired novel written by Hermann Hesse.

“We all discovered that book around the same time,” says Joel. “It went round the whole band at the time we were trying to come up with a new name. We took a little bit of a play on it, made it a bit English. We used to pronounce the name of the book ‘Syd Arthur’.”

Last year, Syd Arthur released their debut album On And On, which was recorded in their own studio in Canterbury. Having their own space allowed the quartet to become familiar with recording, producing and mixing their music.

“Three or four years ago we got access to this space from Raven’s family,” says Joel. “It was an old dilapidated building that was on their property. We were often underwhelmed by going into the studio, spending a lot of money and generally not coming out with anything as good as one would hope.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Hope Springs eternal for Galway

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Date Published: 31-Jan-2013

FRANK FARRAGHER

WITH every Spring there comes a dollop of hope and when Galway footballers trot out on Sunday at Pearse Stadium (2pm) to take on Derry in the first match of the National League, there will be murmurings of better days to come for the hard core of maroon supporters.

Patience has had to be a virtue for all involved with Galway football over recent years, but Alan Mulholland and his management team have embarked on a policy of building a young team . . . a slow process and one that also requires the injection of winning key matches to build up the confidence reserves.

Championship and qualifier defeats to Sligo and Antrim last season didn’t exactly improve the mood of the county, and last Sunday week in Enniscrone, there were worrying signs when, once more, Galway perished at the sword of Kevin Walsh.

This time last year in the first match of the league, Galway travelled to Derry and came away with an unexpected victory that sowed the seeds of future hope – overall, Mulholland’s charges had a good early season campaign only being denied promotion by a late, late Kildare penalty goal in their last game at Pearse Stadium.

Over the Winter, Galway’s last playing links with the All-Ireland winning team of 2001 were severed with the retirements of Padraic Joyce and Joe Bergin, so it really is a new canvas in 2013 for the team management.

Mulholland said this week that he didn’t want to put too much pressure on his team for the Derry match, on the basis that there were 14 points to be picked up over the course of the league campaign, but he was still hoping for a strong performance in Pearse Stadium.

“Yes, we were very disappointed at our defeat to Sligo in the FBD league match in Enniscrone and especially with our second-half performance. It was an eye-opener for us but we’ve regrouped since, we’ve taken a look at where things went wrong, and hopefully we’ll get in right for Sunday.

“I suppose that if there’s one thing a young team needs, it’s confidence and that comes from winning matches. Over the last couple of months, the lads really have put in a huge effort in terms of their physical preparation, and I am hoping that this will count for something over the course of the league,” Mulholland told Tribune Sport.

He did stress however that Derry will present a very strong challenge under new manager Brian McIver (who guided Donegal to National League success) – a man who has also placed his faith in a youth policy – with the county having delivered some strong performances in the McKenna Cup.

“There’s a lot of football talent in Derry and maybe like ourselves, they might feel that they should be doing better, but they’ll come to Pearse Stadium on Sunday with no fears, and we know that it will take a huge effort to beat them,” said Mulholland.

Derry didn’t make it through to the McKenna Cup decider but they were, by all accounts, desperately unlucky to lose out to Tyrone in their first round game when they were ‘caught’ by a late sucker punch goal from Conor McAliskey.

Eoin Bradley is also back to spice up things in the Derry attack and the Northern side always carry a strong physical element to their play, so Galway will need to hold their own in the 50-50 scraps for possession.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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