The first people to sell produce along the Promenade were women who carried buckets of cockles and mussels and sold them to tourists. They would sit on the concrete seats and announce their wares. I don’t know if they sang “Alive alive oh” in a Galway accent or not.
Later, stalls would appear parked on the roadside which sold Salthill rock, Peggy’s Leg, and sweets, and sometimes small items marked “A souvenir from Salthill”.
James Codd was the first person to sell ice cream along the prom. He got the idea while working in the Great Southern and watching the crowds going into Toft’s Amusements, so he ordered a special machine made by Pashey, and in 1952, started selling ‘tubs’ for a tanner (6d ) each.
Christy Dooley was another early ice cream seller. He was acting as lifeguard at the Pools and was regularly asked by visitors where they could buy a cooling drink, so he set up a stall with his wife Maisie and Bobby Molloy, from which they sold minerals and tuppenies and thruppenies.
Other salesmen to be found on the Prom were freelance photographers. They would take holiday snaps of people and present them with a card which explained how and where they could purchase a copy of the photograph. Des Kenny and Stephen Cullum were two such camera men.
James Codd and Colm Powell were the first people to rent out deck chairs in Salthill. They started in the early 1950s and the business went very well for a number of years. At one point, they had 600 chairs for rent. They charged sixpence for the morning and sixpence for the afternoon. They really made money when sudden showers forced people to abandon their seats. As people became more mobile with their own cars, demand for these chairs began to decrease, and this, coupled with breakage and natural wastage, meant that the business was no longer profitable.
Our photograph is of a new-fangled ice cream machine that became popular in the early 1960s, the ultimate in sophistication – it had a bicycle attached.
This is one of a number of photographs of old Salthill which are on exhibition in Galway City Museum which is well worth a visit.
Speaking of the museum, Brendan McGowan will give a talk there on Saturday next, April 14, at 2.30pm on the subject of “Pádraic Ó Conaire and the Revolution” and all are welcome.