Salthill Prom in the fifties

The Prom has been much in the news in the last few days. In Victorian times, our ancestors used to advertise the Promenade as a place unrivalled in the country, where a person could take the healthy invigorating air like nowhere else. In those days, it was just a narrow crooked roadway, very rough and untarred, and it extended from Palmer’s Rock to Blackrock. There were no shelters or flower beds, indeed there was hardly any beach, just rocks and shingle and seaweed. The cleaning up process started when breakwaters and piers were built, so there is a lot more beach now than there was 60 years ago. There were no large boulders to strengthen the Promenade, and flooding from the tide was far more regular than it is today – with the experience of this past couple of weeks excepted.

There was another section closer to town, known as ‘The Tenpenny Road’, or Grattan Road, but it was not linked to Upper Salthill along the seashore until the ‘new’ prom was built. Since then the path has been developed along the shore at South Park, and also along the shore at the golf club, making this one of the finest walks in the country.

“Walking the Prom” is one of the great Galway pastimes, and has been for generations of Galwegians and visitors alike, people of all shapes, sizes, and ages at all times of the day and night and in all kinds of weathers. The changing light and various moods of the weather make it exciting. There are days when you can almost reach out and touch the Clare hills, days when they seem miles away, and days when you cannot see them at all. There are a couple of weeks in November when the sun goes down spectacularly on Galway Bay if you are on the Prom, and also a few weeks in February. The sunrise on the bay in the weeks around Christmas can be breathtaking…all mauves and pinks and silvers and purples. It makes a difference when the wind is against you, and the sensation of sea spray in your face can be very refreshing, as is the perfume of fresh seaweed.

Tradition had it that you had to kick the wall at the end of the Prom. For regulars this has not been quite the same since the donkey who occupied the little field died. The variety of those you meet means it is never dull…heart patients in recovery, those who are in training for the New York marathon for Croí, arm swingers, shufflers, power walkers, strollers, year round swimmers, mackerel fishermen, surfboarders, dogs and dogdirt, speeding cyclists, that dreaded type who spots you from a long way off and comes straight at you saying, “Ah, the very person I wanted to see.”

Our photograph today was taken in the early fifties, and shows many of the types referred to. The prom had not been strengthened with boulders, the beach was much stonier, the steps down to the beach were removed in the fifties. Some of the seats along the front in those days were just large concrete lumps, and yet this was the perfect setting for the National Currach Racing Championships which were held in the fifties, when many thousands used to congregate here to watch the sport.

This Year’s Christmas Quiz Winner

Congratulations to Ms Elizabeth Fox,

Tirellan Heights, Headford Road, Galway.

Your dinner for two voucher in The Ardilaun is on its way.

You have amazing knowledge of Galway, well done! Tom & Dick

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