I start my journey ‘up stream’ of Letterkenny this week at Newmills near Glenswilly. I am out for a spin in one of the many new Toyota Hybrid cars. Even though it’s the first day of spring when they say the day and night are the same length, the sun is going down far too fast for my liking.
I grab my camera for a couple of quick photos of the brilliant white Toyota Uras which I parked up along PF Gallagher’s perfectly preserved corn mill.
You can just make out the beautiful mill wheel to the side of the old building and to the left of the mill you can hear the rattle of the River Swilly, all business on its way out into Lough Swilly before eventually making its way to the Atlantic Ocean.
PF Gallagher was an old man when I was a boy. My father would head out there for the messages for the house with us all piled into the back of an old Anglia estate (HIH 866). They had the freshest of Grant’s ham in the shop which, Carrie , PF Gallagher’s sister would finely slice. My father also could have a half and a bottle in the shop which doubled up as a bar as he waited on his shopping.
As a boy running around Newmills, I never could quite figure out how the mill worked. The mill wheel was one of the biggest wheels about but yet it was higher than the River Swilly that flowed past it. How did the water make it work? It was only in later years when the Board Of Works took the mill over and stripped all the overgrown trees back that I could fully understand the workings of the water wheel.
It’s hard to believe that PF Gallagher’s old corn and flax mill and this new Toyota Hybrid are both finding energy to produce power from nature! PF went up stream from Newmills and diverted part of the Swilly off to the side, the flow of the river above that would push it down its new path.
That water would make its way down into the mill dam which is higher than the buckets on the mill wheel. As the buckets fill the beautiful mill wheel gathers momentum and starts to turn. On a normal mill back in the day that would have enough to get the corn milled and the provide power for the scutcher to work the flax, PF Gallagher went a step further; he was also producing electricity from a generator also driven by the mill wheel, which was supplying power to lights for the mill from the River Swilly.
The mill was lit by electric light where the homes in the local area were lit by candle. PF Gallagher could have sold you electricity if you wanted it and had the means of holding it. Back in the those days the radios in the homes were called a wireless!
Not a thing to do with broadband or anything like that, they were called wireless because they used what was called a dry battery to power them and did not need to be plugged in. PF could charge them from the generator at the mill and you could carry them home, power up your radio and tune into “Athlone” and listen by candle light.
Meanwhile back at the mill
So what has a hybrid got to do with a 200 year old mill. Everything!
PF Gallagher extracted power from nature. PF could sit at Newmills and wait for a flood to flow down the Swilly and he was on full power. His mill was stationary where the new Toyota Hybrid is mobile. The Toyota power sources on in its ultra efficient engine, whereas PF’s River Swilly was his power source at the mill to run it and produce electricity – the same can be said about the hybrid motorcar.
In an ideal world an all electric car would be perfect, but when you consider that most of us can’t keep our mobile phones topped up with power, the Hybrid is the way to go.
The Engine on the Hybrid provides the main power supply, but like PF the Hybrid is getting that best possible use of the engine as it is driving the car on the road and is also producing electricity which is stored in the latest in battery technology.
Then when the car is in slow moving traffic in town driving, it switches to an electric motor which is driven by the batteries on board. This is where the Hybrid wins over any ordinary car as it is not burning fuel sitting in traffic as the electric motor will move it along with out starting the engine.
The big brakes
Like our miller PF Gallagher, the Hybrid also is using gravity to recharge the batteries. The gearbox in the Hybrid (CVT) is automatic and when you set it in B setting in drive the brakes and the transmission gather energy to recharge the cars batteries when the car is going down hill.
Unlike PF Gallagher you don’t need a flood in the Swilly to go and enjoy the benefits of driving the New Toyota Hybrid!
The engine is always there to supply the drive and recharge the batteries, so you could say it’s wireless as well in that you do not need to plug it in to charge the batteries. This week drove the Auris, it just looks like any other family car, ours was in white with the “SOL” trim level, complete with stylish black alloy wheels.
And what about the Hybrid in snow?
Just one of the questions I was asked this week when out testing one of the latest Hybrids, another one was can you charge your phone in them? And the other question is where do you plug them in?
There are great interest in these car of the future. So much so that Toyota in Donegal are organising a Hybrid information weekend at the start of April at their showrooms where the range of cars will be on show. Also Experts from Toyota HQ will be in Donegal to talk and answer questions about Hybrid cars and also talk about Toyota’s long term plans for building cars that will be kinder to our environment, and hopefully they will be able to answer some of the may questions the public are interested in.
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