Griffith’s Valuation was done in the mid 1850s in order to survey all land and buildings in the country with a view to putting rates on them. It was a comprehensive project and is a very valuable resource for researchers today. In that survey there are 38 houses listed in the village of Salthill, including those we see in our photograph, the six that were in Beach Avenue (which was known then as Ryan’s Terrace ), those that went down to Cremin’s Sea Baths (where Seapoint is today ), and a number across the road, roughly where Baily Point is today. There were also some irregular buildings on what is now called Lenaboy Avenue.
Salthill was transformed in 1860 by the building of the Eglinton Hotel, and it really opened up from October 1879 on when a tramway was built linking the city with Salthill. Our photograph was taken in the 1920s when the tramtracks were gone, replaced by the charabancs of the Galway Omnibus Company, and later by CIE buses. There were no buildings on the left hand side of the road, as we can see from the shadow of the high landlord’s wall.
On the far left we can see a shed on the corner of Beach Avenue. Next to that was the Ballinasloe House with the famous sign “Stop ! This is The Bal”. In the mid 19th century, the post office was situated there. When our picture was taken it was owned by Joe Grehan, who was a well known Republican. Indeed the Bal was raided and smashed up a number of times by the Black and Tans. Beside that was Scallan’s Pub, which at one time was known as Flynn’s. It was later taken over by Glennon’s and later still by O’Connor’s, which is the name over the door today. It is probably the only thing in this photograph which has not changed since.
Next door was Divilly’s butcher shop, later Dolan’s butcher shop, and later still was known as The Salthill Drapery. Next door lived a Mrs Donnellan in a house which subsequently became Heavey’s Salthill Restaurant. Beside that was Miss Canavan’s Kincora Hotel, fully licensed, comfortable, and central. It would soon advertise that it had electric light throughout, and the phone number was Galway 52.
The Stella Maris was next, ‘beside Atlantic waves, excellent cuisine, personal supervision, modern in every detail, free garage, convenient to Golf Links, bathing strand safe and large at the rear of the hotel, bus service from the door to all parts of Ireland. Proprietress, Mrs Walshe’.
Beside that was Miss Heffernan’s, and next door to her was O’Neill’s Hotel, later called Hynes’ and known as The Rockville. The distinguished author Donal Mac Amhlaigh worked there for a time. Next was Loughnane’s, which later became Synotts. Mrs Synott had a small shop there which was subsequently taken over by Alfie Curley who ran a very good grocery shop that seemed to have everything. My memory of him is standing in an immaculate long white coat behind the slicing machine as he cut the ham. Next door was a house known as Glen View which later became Costelloe’s.
Apart from O’Connor’s, the entire vista we see has changed physically and in character. Parking is not what it used to be, nor is the traffic, though the road is wider today and there are now several nationalities apart from Irish in business along this stretch .