Anthony O’Reilly always did things his way. As a young lad growing up in a bustling Salthill, Sunday mass was the biggest event of the week.
So much so that the Church of Christ The King was packed to capacity and some members of the congregation had to attend mass in the famous Seapoint ballroom. Anto didn’t have to be asked twice if he was going to be one of the flock that would receive holy communion in the ballroom.
For him, Seapoint was the coolest place on the planet. A place where all the ballroom showbands came to entertain the flock. A place of glamour and celebrity. A place that he couldn’t get into. Until now. While mass was on and the people were getting Holy Communion, Anto was serving bottles of cola and orange to his friends at the back of the dancehall.
There began the journey that has brought Anto full circle to his 18th year celebration this upcoming weekend as a Supermac’s owner in the seaside town. Mass at Seapoint gave him a taste for business so he bought an ice cream bike.
Businessman on a bike
He cycled the prom selling choc-ices and Orange Splits to people on the beach and those walking the prom. From there he went on to manage O’Reilly’s Stroll Inn for his mother until Pat McDonagh gave him the opportunity of setting up a Supermac’s.
Anto is Salthill to the core. You can tell that he cares a lot about the area. He sponsored hundreds of events and clubs throughout the years. He has been a sponsor of Salthill GAA and the Salthill 5s, of which he was one of the longest standing sponsors. He was a Chairperson of the Harp Larger Festival and he was the Corinthians captain in 1995.
He wants to see a new Salthill develop on the back of the food and facilities on offer.
“Salthill has changed a lot over the years,” according to Anto. “This town was choc-o-bloc with clubs, bars and guesthouses. Now it is the gourmet capital of the city. It has a huge selection of restaurants and coffee shops as well as what we have here in Supermac’s. It’s a very affordable part of the city to live in now as house prices have come down in the past few years so the place has everything,” he said, “but we need more bedrooms to develop the tourist trade.”
Another thing Anto is passionate about is Pieta House. He has been involved with the charity for a number of years and last year raised €25,000 with a ‘Drive to Norway’ fundraiser where he drove five Land Rover Defenders to Oslo.
He served 3,000 cups of tea at the Darkness Into Light fundraiser in Leisureland last year. “I’m hoping to serve 4,000 this year,” he said.
Giving something back
Anto studied childcare in college and this is the basis of his strong feelings about his support for Pieta House.
“Young people are under so much pressure nowadays,” he said. “The financial recession has a lot to do with it. People were getting down about not having money. We grew up in Salthill and we never had a penny. But there’s always a way, always something you can do and that’s why it’s important for people like me to contribute in any way that I can.”
Anto still sells fresh ice cream and he celebrates 18 years in Supermac’s Salthill this weekend with a revamp of the restaurant. He’ll have a Family Funday with face painting and balloon modelling as well as celebrity appearances by Ryan Andrews of Fair City and members of Galway GAA as well as loads of giveaways. Anto has a brand new lobby and the images on the wall are pure Salthill — just like Anto.