The National Enterprise Town Awards: Salthill

We are profiling all the towns to enter this year’s National Enterprise Town Awards. Today we are looking at Salthill in Co Galway. 

Salthill is a vibrant area situated on the northern inner shore of Galway Bay, with the Aran Islands visible to the right and Galway City ‘The City of the Tribes’ to the left. Geographically, it is also the mid-point on the Wild Atlantic Way.

The Irish for Salthill is ‘Bóthar na Trá’, which literally means ‘the road by the sea’. Two hundred years ago, the Salthill area was mostly agricultural land around a small village occupied mostly by fishermen.

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.

Salthill’s population and community are represented by the Village Salthill Community Development Organisation, dedicated to improving the community and enhancing the lives and experiences of residents and visitors alike. Only three years in existence, the Village Salthill won the coveted Pride of Place national award in 2018.

Tourism plays a massive role in the local economy in Salthill. The town was, until 2007, home to one of the biggest non-fee paying air shows in Galway, the Salthill Air Show, which took place in June over Galway Bay. The show attracted over 100,000 people every year and generated over €1m in revenue. With three large resort hotels, smaller hotels, hostels, guesthouses and dedicated self-catering accommodation, Salthill can sleep over 3,000 visitors nightly during the summer. Salthill has some thirty restaurants, bars and coffee-shops, an aquarium and many sporting centres.

Weekly breakfast meetings in Salthill provide residents and businesses with the opportunity to initiate and participate in many community activities including Clean-Green Beaches, Street Gardens, Festivals, Ealu Walks, Salthill Proms and Christmas in Salthill. The town recently trained over 100 local business employees to be Wild Atlantic Way ambassadors and local experts.

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.

Written by Stephen Larkin

Published on 15 August, 2019