This wintry photograph of part of Salthill was probably taken during the war as there are no vehicle tracks in the snow, indeed there are no vehicles to be seen. The shop on the right was built by a Miss Burke who came here from Castlerea in 1935. It was a grocery and sweet shop with advertisements on the wall outside for plug tobacco.
The stone wall beside it fronted a vacant site where Claude Toft eventually built his amusements arcade and casino. Claude was one of Salthill’s great characters and would eventually become mayor of Galway.
The corner building next door was originally Kenny’s Bar and Grocery occupied by Jack, Annie, Kathleen, Mrs Catherine, and John Kenny. They eventually sold it to Bill Sammon who called it the Strand Bar. He in turn sold it to Miss Betty Gallagher who, being Scottish, called the pub Scotch House. Stan Reilly bought it from her. It was later taken over by the Lohan family who redeveloped it, and today it is once again in the ownership of the Reilly family. The section of wall sticking out from what looks like the front of the pub marked the entrance to Lenaboy Avenue. There was a public weighing scale beside it, and a freestanding post box a little further on.
Just past this, out of picture, lived the Kellys, the McAlinneys, the Fannings, the Woods, the Grand Hotel, which was run by the Misses Martin, the Banba Hotel which was run by the Misses Geraghty, and a house occupied by three sisters named Finnegan.
The road was much narrower then. The building we see on the left was once an RIC barracks. It was later occupied by Joe Joe Carney and latterly by Monica Wallace. The wall in front of it had a stone seat running out towards the sea and was famously known as “the Lazy Wall”. Many tourists, mostly people from an agricultural background known as "the Fámairí", used to gather here year after year to smoke their pipes and gossip. The poet Francis Fahy wrote a number of poems about the people who used to frequent the wall. The storm beach in front of it, the wall itself, and the buildings behind it are all gone now, part of the road or the car park.
In fact the island in the middle of the road today is roughly where the buildings are in this photograph.
As part of the Galway History Festival which runs from March 5 to 16, this writer will be presenting a slideshow in the King’s Head this Saturday March 9 at 4pm. The subject is ‘Old Galway Pubs’ and all are welcome. You will find the programme of the festival on the web at galwayhistoryfestivalwordpress.com or you can email the festival at [email protected].