The town as seen from Bray Head
Motto: Féile agus Fáilte (Irish)|
"Hospitality and Welcome"
Location in Ireland
|Coordinates: 53°12′04″N 6°06′41″W / 53.20102°N 6.11136°WCoordinates: 53°12′04″N 6°06′41″W / 53.20102°N 6.11136°W|
|Elevation||18 m (59 ft)|
|Time zone||WET (UTC+0)|
|• Summer (DST)||IST (WEST) (UTC-1)|
|Irish Grid Reference||O264185|
Bray (Irish: Bré, meaning "hill", formerly Brí Chualann) is a coastal town in north County Wicklow, Ireland. The town straddles the Co. Wicklow-Co. Dublin border, with a portion of the northern suburbs situated in County Dublin. It is situated about 20 km (12 mi) south of Dublin City Centre on the east coast. It is a busy urban centre and seaside resort, with a population of 31,872 making it the ninth largest urban area in Ireland at the 2011 census.
Bray's scenic location and proximity to Dublin make it a popular destination for tourists and day-trippers from the capital. Bray is home to Ardmore Studios, hosting Irish and international productions for film, television and advertising. Some light industry is located in the town, with business and retail parks concentrated largely on its southern periphery. Bray town centre has a range of shops serving the consumer needs of the surrounding area. Commuter links between Bray and Dublin are provided by rail, Dublin Bus and the M11 and M50 motorways.
The name of the town "Bray" or "Bré" means hill or rising ground, possibly referring to the gradual incline of the town from the Dargle Bridge to Vevay Hill and or Bray Head.
Medieval to 1800
In medieval times, Bray was on the southern border of the Pale, the coastal district governed directly by the English crown from Dublin Castle. Inland, the countryside was under the control of Gaelic Chieftains, such as the O'Toole and O'Byrne clans. Bray features on the 1598 map "A Modern Depiction of Ireland, One of the British Isles" by Abraham Ortelius as "Brey". (It is worth noting the "O Byrne" name appearing prominently on the map.) The Earl of Meath purchased the Kilruddery estate in Bray in 1627 with the establishment of the Earl title, the heir apparent is the present holder's only son, Anthony Jacques Brabazon, Lord Ardee (born 1977). In August or September 1649 Oliver Cromwell is believed to have stayed in Bray on his way to Wexford from Dublin. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Bray remained a typical small manorial village, but during the latter part of the 18th century, the Dublin middle classes began to move to Bray which, while still being relatively close to the city, offered splendid mountain scenery and sea bathing in its immediate vicinity.
1800 to present
The Dublin and Kingstown Railway, the first in Ireland, opened in 1834 and was extended as far as Bray in 1854. With the coming of the railway, the town grew to become Ireland's largest seaside resort. Hotels and extensive residential terraces were built in the vicinity of the seafront. Railway entrepreneur, William Dargan, developed the Turkish baths, designed in an extravagant Moorish style at a cost of £10,000; these met an end after a turbulent century of business when the demolition squad arrived in 1980. The town continued to thrive following Independence but the outbreak of the Second World War put the industry 'on hold' for its duration. However, during the 1950s tourists from the United Kingdom returned to Bray in great numbers to escape the austerity of Britain's post-war rationing. The town's career as a resort declined from the 1960s onwards when foreign travel became an option for holiday-makers. However, day-trippers continued to flock to Bray, particularly during the summer months. The Summer Festival, featuring carnival attractions, fireworks display and an airshow, draws tens of thousands of visitors in July and August.
Thousands of people turned out on the seafront to see Olympic boxing champion Katie Taylor, the town's most famous sportsperson, return home from London in August 2012.
The town is situated on the coast; Shankill, County Dublin lies to the north, and Greystones, County Wicklow to the south. The picturesque village of Enniskerry lies to the west of the town, at the foot of the Wicklow Mountains.
The Irish have an intimate relationship with Bray. The Irish Sea grants Bray a scenic view and moderate temperatures all year round. People are attracted to sports sailing, rowing, swimming and social gathering near the waters edge on a daily basis. The water offshore is protected by the out jutting of Bray Head from the south and from the slow waters if the Dublin pale to the north. The beach has been reworked several years back to protect the town from eroding.
The River Dargle which enters the sea at the north end of Bray rises from a source near Djouce, in the Wicklow Mountains. The Dargle runs down through the town straight to the Irish Sea via the harbour.
Bray Head is situated at the southern end of the famous Victorian promenade with paths leading to the summit and along the sea cliffs. The rocks of Bray Head are a mixture of greywackes and quartzite. The large concrete cross at the summit provides a notable landmark on the east coast and is a major attraction for locals and visitors. South and west of Bray are some of the highlands of Ireland great for hiking and mountain biking.
A substantial public transport network, both north into Dublin and south into County Wicklow and County Wexford, serves the town. Bray is on the DART Rail Network which stretches north to Malahide and Howth and south to Greystones. The town is also on the mainline Iarnród Éireann rail network which connects north to Connolly Station in Dublin city centre and further to Drogheda and Dundalk. To the south, the rail line goes through Arklow and Gorey before reaching Rosslare Europort. Bray's railway station is named after Edward Daly, an executed leader of the 1916 Easter Rising. Bray Station was opened on 10 July 1854. The station's eastern platform features a mural illustrating aspects of local and national history for every decade from the 1850s to the 2000s, which are being replaced by mosaics.
There are plans to extend the Luas light rail system to Fassaroe, an area in the northwest of the town. However, the exact connection between the Luas and the town centre railway station has yet to be decided. Until 1958, the old Harcourt Street railway line ran from Harcourt Street in Dublin to Bray, along much of the route of the new Luas. As of 2014, there is much doubt if the Luas will be extended to Bray.
Five bus companies pass through Bray: Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann, Finnegan's Bray, Aircoach, St. Kevin's Bus Service to Glendalough. Dublin Bus is by far the biggest operator with frequent services to and from Dublin city centre and many services within the North Wicklow and South Dublin area. Dublin Bus also provides services to Dún Laoghaire, Enniskerry, Greystones, Kilmacanogue, Kilcoole and Newtownmountkennedy. Finnegan's Bray also offer a nightlink service from Dublin. Aircoach operates an hourly service to and from Dublin Airport.
Cars and motorcycles
Bray has easy access to its closest commercial and private airports. Dublin Airport is reachable by the M50 quickly on the north side of Dublin City. Newcastle Aerodrome is the closest private airfield a short distance south of Bray.
Bray has a steadily growing population of permanent residents. It increases dramatically in the warmer seasons with tourists from Dublin and other countries to attend festivals, be by the sea and as part of trips to the Garden of Ireland, Wicklow, of which Bray is a gateway.
Bray was governed by a town council until 2014. Part of the northern Bray area lies within the local authority area of Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown, despite its seamless integration with the rest of the town. The border between County Wicklow and County Dublin lies along Old Conna/Corke Abbey, thereby making all areas north of that point Bray, County Dublin. The town itself is part of the Bray Local electoral area for elections to Wicklow County Council which elects eight councillors which also sit on the Bray Municipal Council.
- Brendan Thornhill (Ind; Cathaoirleach of the Bray Municipal District)
- Steven Matthews (GP; Leas-Cathaoirleach of the Bray Municipal District)
- Joe Behan (Ind) ref name="councillor"/>
- Michael O'Connor (SF)
- Christopher Fox (Ind)
- Oliver O'Brien (SF)
- John Ryan (FG)
- Pat Vance (FF)
Bray is a long-established holiday resort with numerous hotels and guesthouses, shops, restaurants and evening entertainment. The town also plays host to a number of high-profile festival events.
Available in the town's vicinity are two 18-hole golf courses, one tennis club, fishing, a sailing club and horse riding. Other features of Bray are the amusement arcades and the National Sealife Centre. Bray is known as the Gateway to Wicklow and is the longest established seaside town in the country. It has a beach of sand and shingle which is over 1.6 km (0.99 mi) long, fronted by a spacious esplanade. Bray Head, which rises steeply (241 m (791 ft)) from the coast, dominates the scene, affording panoramic views of mountains and sea. The concrete cross at the top of the head was erected in 1950 for the holy year.
Bray is a popular base for walkers, ramblers and strollers. It is notable for its mile-long promenade which stretches from the harbour, with its colony of mute swans, to the base of Bray Head at the southern end – from where a well worn track leads to the summit. Also very popular with walkers is the 7 km (4.3 mi) Cliff Walk along Bray Head out to Greystones.
The amusements on Bray Beach have been a strong attraction for day visitors from Dublin for many years.
Attractions, festivals and events
There are several attractions all year round including the walk along the Bray Promenade and feeding the swans at the harbour, the Cliff Walk from Bray around the Bray Head Mountain to Greystones village, the Sealife Aquarium, Kilruddery House and Gardens. For adventure for both young and old there is Squirrel’s Scramble for kids in Kilruddery Gardens and Bray Adventures for both sea and land adventures of all types.
Saint Patrick's Day Festival
Bray hosts a large carnival and festival events to celebrate the annual Saint Patrick's Day holiday around 17 March every year. The Bray St. Patrick's Carnival and Parade is presented by Bray & District Chamber and is a five-day festival of carnival fun, parades and live entertainment.
Silent Film Festival
Bray Jazz Festival
Bray Jazz Festival takes place annually on the May bank holiday weekend. The festival includes performances by jazz and world music artists from Ireland and abroad.
The annual Bray Summerfest is an established tourist event, taking place over six weeks in July and August. The Summerfest features over 100 free entertainment events, including live music, markets, sporting entertainment, carnivals and family fun. Performers who have headlined include Mundy, Brian Kennedy, the Undertones, the Hothouse Flowers and Mary Black. In 2006, over 60,000 visitors attended the main festival weekend in mid-July.
Hell & Back event
Cliff Run event
Pubs and restaurants
Bray is home to many pubs and restaurants, including the first Porterhouse bar, who specialise in brewing their own ales, stouts and beers. In 2010, the Lonely Planet Guide ranked the Harbour Bar in Bray the Best Bar in the World and the Best off the Beaten Track Bar in the world. The O'Toole family owned the bar for three generations, but it was bought by the Duggan family in 2013. The Duggans also operate two seafront premises, Katie Gallagher's and the Martello, both include restaurants on site. Bray seafront bars are characterised by extensive open air terraces, catering for large crowds during the summer. Most provide bar food. There are twenty two licensed premises in Bray, including six hotels.
There are twelve fully licensed restaurants offering a range of cuisines including Chinese, Indian, Nepalese and European. There are several unlicensed restaurants/cafes providing breakfast, lunch or snacks during the day. A McDonald's fast food outlet occupies the ground floor of the Old Town Hall on Main Street. In 2015, The Irish Times published a study which analysed the presence of fast food outlets in Ireland. Bray was found to have the lowest per capita concentration of the ten towns and cities included, with just 0.09 stores per 1,000 people.
Bray Head Inn, the hotel of choice for the Victorians circa 1860, has been used for a variety of films over the last 25 years.
Currently, the Mermaid Arts Centre uses its facilities for showing films on occasion. Films, short and long, of an artistic or foreign nature but not blockbusters. The mainstream cinema that originally was on the Quinnsboro Road closed down a number of years ago. Cinemas are found in Dundrum, Stillorgan, Dun Laoire and Arklow.
Art is fluid creative activity that is energetic in Bray in many forms. Exhibitions and artists performances are regular occurrences.
Dance is increasing in popularity with more modern dance classes starting up in schools in Bray including Hip-Hop.
Music has strong traditions in Bray in the form of sessions in pubs like the Hibernian and in the more formal ways through the School of Music
There are number of choirs in Bray including, the Bray Community Choir, the Bray Choral Society, Bray Gospel Choir and the Bray Youth Choir.
Orchestras and bands
The grassroots for music through orchestras and bands is amazing in Bray. From orchestras and bands that are formally part of schools of music to the continuous flux of bands that form through serendipity.
Bray is home to League of Ireland semi-professional football club Bray Wanderers who play at the Carlisle Grounds. It also hosts schoolboy football club Saint Joseph's Boys A.F.C., Ardmore Rovers and Wolf Tone F.C.
Other sport clubs
Education and industry
Bray caters for the full range of educational needs from child care to further education.
There are a wide variety of child care centres around Bray for families living in the area.
There is a full range of primary schools for a diverse variety of school types including public and private schools including School Project, Gael Schools, Catholic Schools, Protestant Schools, for special needs.
- Bray School Project National School
- Gaelscoil Uí Cheadaigh
- Newcourt Special School
- Saint Andrew's National School
- Scoil Chualann
- Saint Cronan's Boys' National School
- Saint Fergal's National School
- Saint Gerard's Junior School
- Saint Kieran's National School for Travelling Children
- Saint Patrick's National School
- Saint Peter's National School
- Saint Philomena's National School
There is a full range of secondary schools for a diverse variety of school types including Public and Private schools.
- Coláiste Ráithín
- Loreto Secondary School
- Presentation College, Bray
- Saint Brendan's College
- Saint Gerard's School
- Saint Killian's Community School
- Saint Thomas' Community School
English schools for foreign pupils
- ATC Language School
- Dublin Oak Academy
- Elian's Dublin, a Spanish international school.
- English Language Center Ireland
- Language Academy Ireland
- Pace Institute
Bray hosts a number of industries from the basic commodities and tourism to industrial parks that technological and production firms to seat national and international firms.
- Bray Industrial Estate
- Killarney Road Industrial Estate
- Solus Tower Industrial Estate
- Southern Cross Business Park
Bray has been a focal point for the aggregation and distribution of news and communication in Wicklow for many years. It has developed its own subculture and channels.
The following are former or current residents of the town:
- Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, fifth President of Ireland was born in the town
- Dara Ó Briain, comedian and UK television host was born in the town
- Denzil Lacey, former RTÉ 2fm presenter, currently working with Spin South West grew up and lived in the town
- Eddie Jordan, former racing driver and Jordan Grand Prix founder
- Ed Joyce, professional cricketer
- Fergal Devitt, professional wrestler in WWE, where he wrestles under the name Finn Bálor, was born and trained in the town
- Fionn Regan, Irish musician
- Hozier, a singer/songwriter is from Bray
- James Joyce, writer
- Katie Taylor, world and European Olympic boxing champion
- Laura Whitmore, former MTV television presenter, and Strictly Come Dancing 2016 contestant, was born in the town
- Lennox Robinson, Lennox Robinson was an Irish Dramatist and poet. His most popular play was The Whiteheaded Boy (1916). Other plays included Crabbed Youth and Age, The Far Off Hills. He lived at Innisfree, the same house that Sheridan Le Fanu lived in, though at different times.
- Maria Doyle Kennedy, an Irish singer and actress who resided in the town as a child.
- Mary Coughlan currently resides in the town
- Sinead O'Connor, singer currently resides in the town
- Sheridan Le Fanu, Sheridan Le Fanu was a leading Irish writer of gothic horror and mystery novels. His best known works include Uncle Silas, In a Glass Darkly and Carmilla. The latter was to greatly influence Bram Stoker when he wrote his horror masterpiece Dracula.
- Sir William Wilde and Lady Jane Wilde, the parents of Oscar Wilde, built properties on Esplanade Terrace in 1863, one of which is now the Strand Hotel.
- Thomas Langlois Lefroy, Thomas Lefroy was an Irish politician and judge. He lived in his family estate in Newcourt.
- Darren Randolph goalkeeper for West Ham United F.C.
Bray has town twinning agreements with:
- Bray Harbour, October 2014
- St. Patrick's Day 2008
- Bray Head Summit
- Bray from Bray Head
- Methodist Church, Eglinton Road
- Strand Hotel
- Old Town Hall
- Kilruddery House and gardens
- Bray Air Show 2016
- List of towns and villages in Ireland
- History of rail transport in Ireland
- Christ Church, Bray
- Bray Jazz Festival
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bray, County Wicklow.|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Bray (Ireland).|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Bray.|
- Bray on-line
- Bray Town Council
- Bray on Wicklow Tourism
- Bray in Lewis Topographical Dictionary of Ireland 1837