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Wexford Opera Festival features three little known operas every year.

A night at the opera

The Wexford Opera Festival is a bit of an unusual proposition but it works and has done for years. Take three obscure operas, some of which haven’t seen the light of day since their début performance, and stage them again over the course of a few weeks. Of course, some operas are obscure for a reason and maybe they should be left mouldering but for every duffer there are several gems. This year was promising, with all three operas sung in Italian. It’s a general rule of mine not to go near German language opera. I find it dark and depressing. Surprisingly, opera in English is often woefully bad. There’s the advantage of being able to fully understand what’s going on without resorting to subtitles but there’s just something wrong about English language opera. You’re generally safer sticking with Italian or at a pinch, French. We travelled down in the aftermath of Ophelia and just before storm Brian made itself …

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AA caution on weekend driving

In advance of the October Bank Holiday weekend, AA Ireland is warning motorists to exercise additional caution while driving, as conditions worsen over the coming weeks. While there is little risk of significant weather events currently, the changing of the clocks and the start of the winter season represent an increasingly dangerous period on Irish roads. “With the clocks going back this Sunday motorists will notice increasingly dark conditions when driving, particularly during their post-work commute. To make matters worse, as we move into winter we can expect an increase in hazardous weather conditions such as heavy rain and fog which can greatly affect visibility, so it’s important that motorists react accordingly by taking extra care on the roads in the coming months,” said Conor Faughnan, AA director of consumer affairs. “While it’s important that cyclists and pedestrians do their part by donning hi-vis vests, motorists must take the greatest share of the burden when it comes to keeping our …

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The start of the Brompton World Championships at St James's Park, London. Picture Prudential RideLondon

Strangest bike race in the world

You might think that bikes have no place in a motoring column but bear with me. Bicycles, particularly in an urban environment, are often the ideal way to get around. A bike journey can often replace a trip by car, reducing traffic and pollution and making a positive contribution towards fitness. I’ve ended up owning a number of bikes, including the iconic Brompton folding bike, which is still hand-built in London. It gets its name because Andrew Ritchie, who invented it, could see the Brompton Oratory from his flat as he developed the first prototypes in the 70s. I use it around Ennis and when I’m picking up a test car in Dublin, it invariably gets chucked in the boot. I find it’s the easiest and fastest way around the city. I’ve even rocked up to car launches on it, which raised a few eyebrows initially. Owning a Brompton is like joining a club and our equivalent of the All-Ireland …

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Rosemary Smith

Rally legend Rosemary Smith drives an F1 car at 79

As part of the 40th anniversary celebrations for Renault’s Formula One activity, they invited Irish rally legend, Rosemary Smith to Paul Ricard to become, at 79, the oldest person to drive a modern F1 car. Rosemary initially trained as a seamstress and opened her own dress shop, which unexpectedly became her route into the world of motorsport when one of her clients invited her to navigate in a rally. Rosemary has competed in some of the most iconic rallies around the world, taking home many trophies. A particularly poignant victory was the famous Tulip Rally, which she won in 1965, an achievement which made not only the motorsport world take notice but also Hollywood, with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton sending her a huge bouquet and congratulatory letter. Despite these achievements, Rosemary never got the chance to partake in arguably the greatest motorsport experience – driving a Formula One car – until now. With encouragement from long-term friend and navigator, …

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Bob Flavin, ICOTY, Tom Dennigan, Continental Tyres, Stephen Byrne, Mercedes Ireland, John Galvin and Michael Sheridan, ICOTY at the Irish Car of the Year Awards 2017 where the Mercedes-Benz E-Class was crowned the overall winner.

Irish Car of the Year 2017 crowned

The Irish Car of the Year Awards in association with Continental tyres took place on Thursday night, October 27, at the Powerscourt Hotel, Enniskerry. Journalists from Print, online and broadcasting hosted a gala black-tie event attended by Ireland’s leading car brands, importers, distributors & other motoring dignitaries. Mercedes-Benz took the top award with their E-Class and also a category win with the C-Class Coupé, crowned Irish Medium Car of the Year 2017. ICOTY Committee member Michael Sheridan “E Class has set the bar to new heights.” ICOTY Committee member John Galvin “We’ve had 40 years of Irish Car of the Year and the E-Class is an exceptional winner.” Tom Dennigan of Continental Tyres said about the awards “Continental is delighted to be associated with Irish Car of the Year, an event that continues to be the highlight of the motoring year.” Stephen Byrne, Chief Executive, Mercedes-Benz in Ireland, said: “We are honoured to win the Irish Car of the Year 2017 …

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Irish Car of the Year 2017

It’s getting towards the end of the year again and in the motor industry, that means it’s time again for the Irish Car of the Year and Irish Van of the Year awards. This is the 40th year of the awards, which are again supported by long time sponsor, Continental Tyres. The overall winning car and the category winners will be announced at a black-tie ceremony at the Powerscourt Hotel, Enniskerry, on October 27. This year, 33 of Ireland’s leading motoring writers will get together to vote for what they believe to be the best on the market. For the first time, the field of contenders has been expanded to encompass facelifted cars too, so any car introduced in the last year is in with a shout. Voting jurors, who have spent the last twelve months familiarising themselves with everything on the market, will vote in a number of categories. Each juror has 25 points to allocate in each category, …

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Defective car tyres costing lives

Ennis and Clare motorists are being advised to check their car or vehicle tyres monthly, as a Road Safety Authority report identifies defective tyres, including low tyre pressure, as a very significant factor in road deaths. Defective tyres are one of the most significant factors causing road fatalities, according to Ennis Fine Gael councillor, Johnny Flynn. A former chief fire officer, he said improving awareness around safety on our roads is an ongoing priority. The RSA report shows that vehicle factors played a role in one in eight fatal collisions during the period between 2008 and 2012. Defective tyres represented almost two thirds of the vehicle factors identified. The recently published report is the first of its kind to be launched in Ireland, and it analyses An Garda Síochána’s Forensic Collision Investigation reports. According to Councillor Flynn, “This report paints a stark picture of the causes of road fatalities in Ireland. In a four-year period between 2008 and 2012, 983 …

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Warning to drivers on ‘sun glare’

THE Road Safety Authority and gardaí are cautioning drivers about the the danger of ‘sun glare’, which results in drivers being temporarily dazzled or blinded by the intensity and brightness of a low sun. The appeal comes as provisional crash reports indicate that drivers being temporarily blinded by ‘sun glare’ may have been a contributory factor in five fatalities and nine serious injuries between 2014 and 2015. Moyagh Murdock, CEO, RSA said, “Because, at this time of the year, the sun sits so low in the sky, late in the morning and early evening, corresponding with the main commuting times, the sun visor on the car isn’t really much help at all. If a driver is driving straight into such a sun he or she can be completely dazzled by the sheer intensity and brightness of its rays. The situation is made worse if the windscreen is dirty or greasy or if it’s been raining, or the ground is covered …

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