sk any Greystonian about Bray, and they’ll all tell you, that place is well over the hill.
Or, if that route sounds too tough, you could always take the Cliff Walk around the hill. Which is just about the most perfect way to go visit our big brother.
And Bray is like Greystones’ big brother, with broader shoulders and more life experiences; the prodigal son who plays it a little more real than his spoilt little brother would ever dare.
Albert Walk June 1937
It’s easy to forget just how beautiful Bray is. Just take a look at that promenade. Take a walk along Sidmonton Road, and a diversion into any of those horse shoe hideaways of old red brick cottages.
The Promenade 1998
Take a hike up to the cross on Bray Head, look out over the sea, the town, and beyond, to Dublin and Howth. Down Lower Dargle Road, and into the park. Take the twister of Herbert Road, and on up past Ardmore Studios. Go get lost for a day or two in the remarkable grounds of the Kilruddery estate.
Harbour Bar by Val Byrne
Or you could just head down to the sea, feed that ever-growing swarm of swans, and stop off at The Greatest Irish Pub Ever, The Harbour Bar.
And then there’s the people, the craic, the spectacular Duggan makeovers, the squeaky ghost of the Eagle’s Nest Chairlift and that horny bus conductor with the great big bouncing buster of a baby.
Another Val Byrne beauty
But, hey, time for a little history…
Back in medieval times, Bray was on the southern border of the Pale, ruled over by the English crown from Dublin Castle whilst inland, it was the Gaelic Chieftains who were calling the axes.
Main Street by Val Byrne
Back in 1598, the town appeared on a map brazenly titled A Modern Depiction Of Ireland, One of the British Isles as Brey, with the O’Byrne name slapped pretty much all around it.
It was in 1627 that the Earl Of Meath bought the Killruddery estate – the heir apparent today being Anthony Jacques Brabazon, aka Lord Ardee (who turns 40 in 2017) – but it wasn’t until the latter part of the 18th century that this small, manorial village started to attract visitors from the big city.
As with Greystones, it was the arrival of the train that sparked real growth in the town, the Dublin and Kingston Railway extending as far as Bray in 1854. Not long after that, Bray became Ireland’s largest seaside resort, with hotels and extensive residential terraces popping up along that illustrious and seductive promenade.
Those Turkish Baths
Railway kingpin William Dargan developed Bray’s Turkish baths around this time, to the tune of £10,000, their slow, gradual demise finally coming to a crashing end in 1980 when the demolition squad moved in. There had been another tourist boom in the aftermath of the Second World War, as English holidaymakers looked to escape rationing. By the 1960s, foreign travel was becoming all the rage, so Bray had to settle for the day-trippers. Of which, during the summer months, there are still plenty.
Thanks to the likes of the Bray Jazz Festival, the Bray Comedy Festival and Kilruddery’s Silent Film Festival, there’s pretty much always something groovy happening somewhere in Bray during the summer months.
W. Allen & Co c 1950s
And with internationally acclaimed natives such as knock-out merchant Katie Taylor and sensitive popster Hozier putting Bray on the world map, it’s almost enough to make a little brother jealous.
Katie goes Full Rocky
Ooh, and talking of art, we nearly forgot the mighty Ardmore Studios, Ireland’s oldest film studios, having been established in 1958, and responsible for such classics as Excalibur, Braveheart and Breakfast On Pluto.
And quite a few films that, you know, they’d really rather not talk about.
The Flab Four
Noted residents of the town have included James Joyce, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Neil Jordan and Sir Bono of Vox. There’s also the little matter of The Mermaid, one of the grooviest little art centres around.
So, we’re lucky to have such a big brother over the hill. And Bray’s lucky to have us too. Sure, don’t our visitors have to pass through the place every day…?
Big shout-out to Facebook page Bray – Did You Know?, who have been pulling together hundreds of shots of the town over the last few years. You can go explore their huge collection right abouthere.
Good luck getting their dirty big logo off the pics.
You can also find out more about Bray in our archives here, including Pathé News footage of a 1934 Round The Houses car race, and some incredible 1970s shots of Bray from Luke McGuinness. You can also view a 1968 RTE visit here.
Ain’t that a beauty. Source: Signal Arts Centre
Around Bray Head postcard
Old Connaught c.1962
Old Bray 1870-1880
The Dargle by Ray Cranley
Bray Bridge vintage postcard
The Bridge, Bray postcard.
Bray Bridge & Little Bray postcard
Bray Bridge & Little Bray postcard #2
Bray Bridge & Little Bray postcard #3
The Bridge postcard
The Bridge postcard #2
Old 4-arch bridge 1842 (Bartlett’s Ireland)
An Irish Homestead, Bray. Tuck Oilette postcard 1907
International Hotel, Bray – looking down Quinsboro Road. Circa 1858. We think.
Quinsborough Road 1890. Coloured by GG.
Quinsborough Road 1892. Coloured by GG.
Then again, this one says Quinsborough Road c1914. Coloured by GG.
Quinsborough Road way back when. Coloured by GG.
Quinsborough Road c1950. We think. Coloured by GG.
Quinsborough Road postcard c1900
Raverty’s Medical Hall, corner of Main Street & Herbert Road
The Bray Supply Stores Quinsborough Road
Royal Corner demolition 1892
Quinsborough Road, looking east
Quinsborough Road with cobbled crossing c.1880
Quinsboro Road, Bray 1905 postcard
Bray Main Street 1910
The motor car arrives
Bray Main Street by Fergus O’Connor c.1910
Bray Main Street. Source: Unknown
Bray Main Street 1970s. Source Pam Jenkins
Bray Main Street Woolworths 45 bus
Quinsborough Road toward Main Street
Bray Main Street 1870s
Main Street c.1880
Bray Main Street 2 by Fergus O’Connor c.1910
Main Street 1920s
Main Street 1950s
Main Street 1960s
Main Street, with Brown’s, Morris wallpapers, The Wicklow Hills, Murdocks & Scotty’s
Get On The Bray Bus, Gus.
Bray Through A Car Window 1970s. Pic: Luke McGuinness
Main Street towards The Royal Hotel
The Sea Road 1937
Duncairn Terrace Bray 1865-1910
Wyndham Park, Bray 1867
British Army cross the Dargle as WW1 breaks
A Charabanc at Upper Dargle Road
Bray to Enniskerry horse-drawn bus
Denehey’s Coach Works (later Dempsey’s) at Sunnybank
Bray main street circa 1900
George Pearce’s Public House 1920s
Bray Town Hall, began in 1881, completed in 1884, Thomas Deane & Son architects
An Tostal meeting with Jim Pyne, Dr. Ryan, Mr. McDonnell, H.J. Byrne, Dr. Donnelly, Fr. Breen
Bray Main Street 1800s
Town centre from above
The Mill Bray Brewery (later a malt house, from 1884, then the electric light works, from 1892)
Dargle Road & Cripples Home 26AUG1905. Pic Killick
Ravenswell Row, Little Bray 26AUG05 Flood
Sheridan’s Lane, Little Bray after the Aug 1905 flood
The Cripplres Home after the floods August 1905
Little Bray after the flood 24AUG05
Flooding In Bray by James P. O’Dea 6th Mar 1962
Cassells Public House with J. Whaley, W. Brabazon, N. Moran, D. Kinsella, W. Kinsella, J. Earls, J. Byrne, J. Cassells.
The Harbour Bar: The O’Toole Years
Harveys, Scariff & Joe Kelly
St Kevin’s Hibernian Boys Brigade Pipe Band c 1915 Bray
On the way to Christ Church
Christ Church, constructed 1863, spire between 1865 & 1870
Christ Church, Bray. Pic: Robert French
Bray Strand by lithographer T. Packer c.1860
Bray Head Postcard stamped 1906
Bray Seafront from above by Robert French c.1890
Bray Head Vintage Signal Postcard
Bray Seafront by Robert French c1890
Bray Head Regatta by Robert French c.1890
Naylor’s Cove by Robert French colourised
Naylor’s Cove Bathing Place postcard P53366
Naylor’s Cove, Bray Postcard
Naylor’s Cove Bray Harry Kernhoff
The Veranda Cafe, Eagle’s Nest
Living the high life in The Eagle’s Nest 1959
View From Bray Head postcard
Bray Head Cable Car View 1963
Bray Head Chair Lift 1970s. Pic Luke McGuinness
Chair Lift to Eagle’s Nest. John Hinde
Bray Swimming Baths
If the mountain should crumble to the sea…
Bray Head Hotel by Robert French c.1890
Bray Head Hotel circa 1914
Crofton Bray Head Hotel
Bray Promenade by Robert French c 1890
Bray lighthouse stumbles into the sea Sept 25th 1957
Bray Swimming Gala 1943. Colourised by GG.
Fassaroe Castle Sand Company (later Roadstone) 1947
Bray Train Station 1890. Source: Gary Paine
Bray Dart Station 1895. Source: Gary Paine
Bray Train Station 1908
Bray Railway Station by Fergus O’Connor 1990
Railway Station, Bray by Robert French c.1890
Learner Driver 1970s. Pic: Luke McGuinness
Bray Round The Houses Race British Pathe 1934. Colourised by GG.
Strand Road Bray 1930
Martello Terrace by Robert French c.1890
Bray Head Boats by Robert French c.1890
Bray From Above Pic Steve McGarr
The International (built by John Brennan, opened in 1862)
International Hotel Bray 1870s
International Hotel Bray Source Michael O’Reilly
International Hotel Bray postcard – circa 1960
The Turkish Baths
The Baths shortly after they were built 1850s at the cost of £10,000
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