Upper Salthill, a bird’s eye view, c1945

This aerial photograph was taken c1945. On the left you can see the Eglinton Hotel which was originally built in the 1860s. Up to that time, Salthill was a small village that included Lenaboy Avenue and the area between what we know as Seapoint and the Bal. The construction of the Eglinton was on a scale not seen before in Salthill, and it extended the village to the west. It came at a time when locals were beginning to promote the village as a resort, a destination for tourists.

The building to the right of the hotel was a pub (said to be the oldest in Salthill ) owned by a Mr Connolly at the turn of the century. In 1903 Martin Donnellan, who was working with the Union Pacific in Colorado, told his brother-in-law Mr Madden that he was coming home and instructed him to buy the pub. In fact, he bought three houses in the terrace as well and when Mr Donnellan came home, he called the terrace Atlantic Terrace and the pub he named the Atlantic Bar. It is known as Lonergan’s today.

The building adjoining was originally a shoe shop owned by a Mrs Clancy. Martin Finan who worked in gold mines in South Africa decided to come home and he bought the premises and converted it into a pub and a boarding house known as The Commercial Hotel. In June 1915, he moved that the Urban District Council ask the military authorities to allow the pubs in Salthill to stay open to 11pm instead of 10pm during the summer months and that they would promise not to sell drink to soldiers after 10pm. The business was eventually taken over by the Killoran family.

Beside that were the two houses set in from the road, both guest houses, one of which was run by a Mrs Sullivan. The next building was also built by Martin Finan, a shop known as The Bon Bon that was totally geared at tourists where they sold souvenirs, buckets and spades, beach balls, and little nets for catching fish. They also had a range of confectionery selling things like sticks of rock with “A present from Salthill” inscribed on them. In the 1950s and early ‘60s, they had a beautiful and very trendy ice cream parlour down at the back. After Seapoint was built, Noel Finan always had a large billboard outside this shop advertising forthcoming attractions in the ballroom.

Next door was The Burren Mount Villa, a boarding house boasting ‘Airy and Comfortable Apartments’ owned by a Mrs Kelly. Beside that was a narrow lane and next was The Grand Hotel which was run by the Misses Martin, and beside that was the Banba Hotel run by the Misses Geraghty. Out of picture, next door was Finnegan’s, then O’Brien’s, McAlinney’s, Lenaboy Avenue, Kelly’s, and finally Kenny’s Pub.

To the left of the Eglinton, out of picture, was The Rockland Hotel, a small hotel called the Éire Hotel, (later the Claremont ), and also a terrace of four houses, all built in the 1930s. The hotel was eventually sold to Ken Toft who converted it into an amusement arcade. The four houses were taken over by Jack and Ethel Cheevers and converted into the Forster Park Hotel, part of which was The Park Café, a great haunt for local teenagers.

As you can see, the main road was much narrower then with very little traffic. On the bottom left you can see pipes that spilled raw sewage into the sea. The three buildings we see bottom right were at one time an RIC Barracks, a Garda Barracks, a restaurant, an amusement arcade, and private houses occupied by Monica Wallace, the Faulkner family, and Joe Joe Carney. To the right of that was the famous “Lazy Wall”, a long concrete seat that attracted many tourists to just sit and gossip. It was a great place for the “fámairí” to congregate. These were farming people, who, having brought in their harvest, would rent rooms in Salthill and enjoy a little holiday. The Lazy Wall was a favourite meeting place for them, often bumping into people they had met the year before. There is a delightful series of poems written by Francis Fahy on the subject.


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