THE CHANGING FACE OF KINGSHILL
by Tom Kenny
Our first photograph today (courtesy of the National Library) is a bird’s eye view that was taken in 1953 and shows the Warwick Hotel at the top of the picture. Next to it on the right was the entrance to Lenaboy Park, and beyond that you can see part of Queeney’s shop. Next door was Doorley’s private house and then Mrs. Turke’s B&B called Osterley Lodge. Opposite, on the far side of the road was Billy Binn’s house and on the corner, as you can see, was a field with a lot of trees, much used as a playground by local children. This whole area was very prone to flooding and was occasionally rendered impassable as was the case with Hurricane Debbie.
On the near side of the road you can see part of the Galway Bay Hotel still under construction. It was being built by the Miss McDonaghs who owned St. Theresa’s Nursing Home a few doors away. They intended this building as a nursing home but their budget overran and they had to abandon the project. The building was eventually taken over by a building society and they sold it to Jack and Olive Smith. Jack’s brother George helped to convert it from a nursing home to a hotel and it opened as The Galway Bay Hotel in 1956.
The small house at the back, on the seashore, was occupied by an ex-ESB man named Stephens. We know that the Galway Electric Company had built a generating station on Kingshill in the early part of the last century, so it is reasonable to think it might have been at this location.
To the right is part of ‘Lios na Mara’ which was occupied by Tomás Bán and Helena Concannon, two very distinguished writers and Irish language enthusiasts. Next door was ‘Glenavon’ owned by a Miss Fahy and later by Miss McCrann. It was subsequently sold to Ita O’Flynn who converted it into a small hotel and ran it successfully for a number of years. Beside that was St. Grellan’s, a bungalow which was originally built by Jasper Kelly in the 1920s and which was later taken over by Mr. and Mrs. Connie Finan. The last building we see was a guest house owned by Matt and Agnes Cheevers and later by the Treacy family.
As you can see, the sea came right up to the back of these premises. The remains of a Recorder’s Quay was situated just out of picture on the right. The seashore has now been pushed out a long way since the construction of Arthur Colohan Road.
Our second image was taken just a few years later and shows the view taken up the hill. As you can see from the foreground, they were laying foundations for John Kelleher’s Garage. The white gate we see on the left was the entrance to St. Grellan’s, the bungalow owned by Connie Finan. There is a multi-storey apartment block on the site today.
Part of the Warwick Hotel is visible on the far right of our photograph. The hotel garages and stores are still there and behind them is the Summerset Hotel and a small local shop known as An Bhearna which was run for many years by James and Maura Codd. These three buildings, the Warwick, the Summerset and An Bhearna have all been demolished and the sites cleared and obviously been prepared for development. Whenever this happens, it will transform this part of Salthill even further from the sleepy corner in our photograph.