The History of The Salthill Prom
Galway History

The History of The Salthill Prom

Walking along Salthill’s 2km Prom is a favourite pastime of both locals and visitors alike. No matter the time of year people of all ages can be seen strolling along the walkway enjoying the aroma of fresh seaweed and cool sprays of water lifted off the sea. Running from the edge of Galway City along Salthill, ending at the iconic Blackrock Diving Tower, let’s dive into the history behind this famous promenade.

Tradition associated with the Prom involves kicking the wall across from the diving tower for good luck. Salthill’s Promenade is an ideal spot for watching the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets over Galway Bay, with stunning views of Clare Hills in the distance. There are many notable features to be found dotted along the promenade including Mutton Island Lighthouse and The Famine Ship Memorial at Celia Griffin Memorial Park.

In the early 1900s the promenade was just a narrow crooked roadway, very rough and untarred. There were no seats, flowerbeds and the beach had hardly any sand, with a vast majority of it being covered with rocks and seaweed. It was in the 1940s when a county surveyor took over ownership of the land near the promenade, beginning the process of creating the Prom as we know it today. He widened and straightened the road and began to improve the seating along the walkway and built flowerbeds and the shelters.

The Prom Today

Construction on the new Blackrock Diving Tower was completed in 1953. Following that the Prom was extended, connecting it now to Grattan Road. Pathways were also created around South Park and along the coast at the golf course.

The All-Ireland Currach Racing Championships were held at Salthill in the 1950s and thousands would gather along the promenade to watch the sport. The Prom was an ideal viewing spot to take in all the action out on the water. People traveled from all over the country to watch the races, with an estimated 80,000 people showing up one year for the event.

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The Tidal Pools at Salthill were one of the few sandy spots on the beach in the early 1900s, making them extremely popular for families. The first pool was ideal for young infants, at its deepest the pool was a mere 18 inches deep. The second pool was much deeper and was ideal for timid swimmers. The area became known as The Pools or The Ladies, whereas Blackrock was a men’s only bathing spot right up until the 1970s.

History of The Prom
Image by visuallab.ie courtesy of 'Restore the Salthill Tidal Pools'

Over the years the pools were gradually filling up with sand and could no longer be used for swimming. In the mid 1980s the tidal pools were covered over with concrete and sand. Many Galwegians still have memories of learning to swim in the pools with Jimmy Cranny of Galway Swimming Club and Christy Dooley of Blackrock Swimming Club.

The last year has seen an increasing number of sea-swimmers taking to Salthill, with people rediscovering their love for taking a dip in the sea. This has led to a renewed call for the reopening of the tidal pools so they can once again be enjoyed by the community. Restoring the pools would allow people to swim in a protected area right next to the sea. If you are interested in seeing these tidal pools restored tap here to sign the petition.

Dive into the history behind Salthill’s iconic yellow diving tower here