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Museums and Attractions

Museums and Attractions

The Salthill Promenade

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Salthill
Galway
Republic of Ireland

It’s hard to beat Salthill’s location. Situated on the northern inner shore of Galway Bay, the Aran Islands are visible to the right and Galway City 'The City of the Tribes’ to the left. Directly across Galway Bay is the Burren (County Clare) and to the west are the bogs and mountains of Connemara. On a clear day you feel as though you could reach out across the bay and touch the Clare hills though there are also many days when you can’t see them at all. There’s an old expression which goes, 'when you see Aran and the Clare hills it’s a sign of rain and when you can’t see them, it’s actually raining!

The Irish for Salthill is ‘Bóthar na Trá’, which literally means ‘the road by the sea’. The main road west to Connemara was ‘An Bóthar Ard’ (‘the high road’) or Taylor’s Hill as it is known today. Two hundred years ago, the Salthill area was mostly agricultural land around a small village occupied mostly by fishermen. The road west was bounded on the right by a high landlord’s wall, from the 237 acre O’Hara estate, while further along the coast was the 100 acre estate of Lord Oranmore and Browne.

In 1839, a storm destroyed many of the traditional thatched cottages along by the coast in the Salthill area. This disaster was closely followed by the Great Famine which decimated the area leaving some of the landlords bankrupt and resulting in the sale of their estates. Among the casualties was Lord Oranmore and Browne. Part of his estate was subsequently bought by an entrepreneur named Barton who then developed a number of summer lodges along the coast road to be rented to university professors. This area, now known as Rockbarton, still bears the developer’s name.

The largest development of the time was the building of the Eglington Hotel, which opened its doors in 1860. This was a major step up from the guesthouses and small hotels already in operation and attracted a different more upmarket clientele. Shortly afterwards the Galway and Salthill Tramway Company laid down tram tracks from Eyre Square to its western terminus at The Eglington Hotel. This inexpensive transport made Salthill accessible for tourists and day trippers who travelled to Galway by train and then out to the beach by tram. The small fishing village had become a popular tourist resort with many new amenities being developed, the promenade was built and new facilities were put in place for swimmers. A golf club was constructed on Genetian Hill and later moved on to Barna road before finding its permanent home near Blackrock and an old swampy area was developed and became Salthill Park. A tennis club was built on Threadneedle Road and the “amusements” came to Salthill Park each summer.

Salthill continues to grow and develop. The changes have seen the area grow from a small fishing village into a thriving, bustling, busy modern resort.

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