When locals in Salthill think of The Galleon Restaurant, there is no doubt that Bridget Molloy and Eileen Greaney immediately spring to mind.
For more years than they care to remember, the genial duo have been welcoming, nourishing, and catering for generations of Galway families at The Galleon. Earlier this month, they called time on their service and it was with a heavy heart that Roger O'Sullivan, Ger Lyons, and the team at the famous Salthill eaterie bid a fond farewell to their colleagues.
It is more than 40 years since Bridget Molloy first set foot in The Galleon. Initially employed by Jimmy Lydon – the late grandfather of current proprietor Roger O’Sullivan – Bridget has been part and parcel of The Galleon for more than four decades. Originally hailing from Ballinasloe, she moved to Galway city in the 1960s and quickly became a firm favourite in Salthill. In her early years at The Galleon she lived over the landmark restaurant and enjoyed being just a hop, skip, and a jump from the dances at Seapoint.
As senior supervisor, Molloy worked under all three generations since The Galleon was first established in 1965 – first under Jimmy Lydon, then Johnny O’Sullivan, and now Roger O'Sullivan. She also saw her own daughters working with her in The Galleon, and she and Eileen Greaney were affectionately known as ‘the mammies’ of the business by the large team of staff who worked with them through the years.
In its 52 years of business, The Galleon has always been recognised for its infectious family ethos, great food, attention to detail, and wonderful customer service. As well as being owned by three generations of the one family, the restaurant has also catered to several generations of local and visiting families for more than five decades and the family values have always been embraced by staff too.
Joining Bridget in retirement this month was the much-loved general manager, Eileen Greaney. Greaney spent almost three decades in The Galleon and was just the second GM to serve in the restaurant, when she succeeded Mrs O’Shea in 1988. Like Bridget, Eileen’s offspring also served their time in The Galleon over the years, with her sons and daughters joining her in the trade.
Hailing from Swinford, Greaney has stayed true to her Mayo roots and at match time there was always great banter between the Mayo and Galway staff and customers.
Both Eileen and Bridget gave their lives to The Galleon. Their dedication and commitment to their roles were second to none and the esteem in which they are both held by staff and customer speaks volumes.
Eileen and Bridget had a wonderful rapport with everyone they encountered during their years at The Galleon. They were loved by staff and the customers considered them friends. Undoubtedly, The Galleon is seen as an institution in Salthill and together, Eileen and Bridget played a central role in moulding that institution.
As they begin to enjoy their retirement, they can however rest assured that their beloved Galleon is in good hands. Ger Lyons, who has taken over the reins as general manager from Eileen, joined the team in 1996. Lyons worked under Bridget and Eileen for the last two decades, first coming on board to clean tables, then moving on to waitressing, before being appointed supervisor, senior supervisor, and now general manager.
Lyons commented: “I was lucky enough to train under the two ladies. They taught me everything about the business – their qualities, ethos, and warmth were always so evident and I was lucky to work with them for so many years.”
Roger O'Sullivan said: “This is truly the signing off of a monumentous chapter of the Galleon's history and all of my family wish them nothing but the very best for their futures. I know that the customers, suppliers, and not least Geraldine and myself along with the whole team – will really miss them both and we’re looking forward to seeing them back here as customers for many years to come.”
Of course, with the progression of time comes changes and, at present, The Galleon is updating and improving its menu, as well as revamping some of the décor. Lyons added: “We are making some changes but all for the better. No matter what changes though, our ethos remains the same. We love serving the people of Salthill and the many visitors who flock in to the area every year. Here at The Galleon, we have been making friends, memories, and great food since 1965 and that is never going to change.”