A tale of two summers
Sales of hot drinks are keeping ice-cream sellers going in Galway, writes Caroline Crawford
Salthill in Galway has long been a mecca for summer holidaymakers, but the windy rainy conditions on offer this year have hit businesses hard.
Joe Quinn and his wife Yvette have run Quinn Bon Bons in Salthill for 17 years. This is the quietest season they have ever had.
"Usually, July 12 is the marker for us. At this time of year, we'd often have queues of people in but this is the worst year since we bought. It's cold, rainy and windy. It can't get any worse.
"The last two years were fantastic, this is a disaster. It's not weather for the beach yet," said Joe.
The Quinns said that throughout the summer business had been down about 50pc, but on particularly bad days, such as last Saturday, they saw a 100pc collapse in trade.
"For us, Sunday was a good day, if you had the same type of day last year you would think it was disappointing," he added.
On the seafront, Theresa Rock and her children Charlie (6) and Lucy (4) had the empty beach to themselves.
"We come a few days a week. To be honest, they go out in any weather, they don't take any notice. I just have to take extra layers this summer.
"The beach is empty during the day, we really haven't seen it anyway but this year, even on the warmest days, people are not coming out. They don't know what to expect with the weather this year, so they are not prepared.
"The great thing is we have no problem getting parking," she added.
Seán O'Connor works in the popular seafront coffee shack Jungle Beach Break. It only opens on good days and he has found them to be few and far between this season.
"It's dependent on the weather. If it's raining we don't open and when it's sunny we're open all day.
"It's down big time this summer. Some weeks we might just get 50-60 hours, where it would have been 90 hours last year.
"It has been consistently bad this year. People are fairly upbeat, they are getting on with it. The tourists are still around but it's the regulars that are missing."
The shack opens from April to the end of September but this will be weather-dependent.
"Ice cream is well down, it's the coffee that is keeping us going," he added.
Three Belgian tourists, Philine Peeters (19), Amke Dirix (20) and Natalie Boeykens (20), were camping in Salthill.
While they had expected a little rain, they weren't prepared for the level of misery they experienced.
"It's okay during the day but at night when we try and go to sleep in the tent, it is wet every night.
"Last night there was a really bad wind and we thought that we were going to be blown away," said Amke.