The first concerted move to improve Salthill (that I know of ) was in 1882 when funds were collected locally and the Salthill Improvement Company was set up to improve the resort. The prevention of pollution was a priority. The company had its ups and downs and eventually died off. The first meeting of the Galway Urban District Council in 1925 had a deputation from Salthill who listed proposed improvements, In the 1930s a Salthill Development Committee was set up.
Then in 1941, a new citizens’ committee was formed, the difference being that they were all nominated by the ratepayers of Salthill. They set about lobbying the county manager for the clearing of the foreshore, the erection of a breakwater pier and the provision of proper bathing facilities and swimming pools. They wanted less severe licensing restrictions, improvement of the Prom, a school, conferences, and a pleasure pier. They argued there was not one boat with oars that might rescue a person in difficulty, there was no sanitary accommodation on the Prom, no signs to indicate the depth and condition of the tide... all very ambitious but they meant business. They rented the Hangar Ballroom from the Corporation, paid rent and handed over all the profits (£6,600 in the years 1944 to 1946 ) provided all the money was spent on improvements to Salthill.
The dances were a big success and everyone was enthusiastic about the improvements — the bands, the public, etc. One of the songs Johnny Cox used to sing was written by Edward King of Ely Place.
“Come and listen to the band
And you will help improve the strand
Tread your light fantastic here
And you will make the foreshore clear
Dance with Cox
And move the rocks
Dancing feet can lend a hand
To treat us to a fine strand
Every half crown at the door
Is a rock off the shore
Dancing in the Salthill Pavilion
Makes the foreshore look a million.”
Our photograph of some of the citizens’ organisation (courtesy of Liam Sammon ) was taken c1946 and includes, in the front row: Hank O’Gorman, Reverend Conway, Mrs Emerson, and Mick McLaughlin. The second row includes Johnny Whelan, Marie Monaghan, Frank Fallon, Mattie Cheevers, Bill Sammon, Catherine Geraghty, and Billy Emerson. Included in the back row are Peter Kelly, Noel Finan, Jack Keogh, and Jim Shields. Others who were involved were Mrs M Mangan, Miss K Martin, Miss M Queeney, Jim Killoran, Seamus Sweeney, J Cunnane, Jack Cheevers, Frank McCabe, J Higgins, Enda Emerson, Tom O’Connor, T Hanrahan, M O’Flaherty, E Kneeshaw, S O’Neill, and Frank Hallinan.