Bray, County Wicklow

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The town as seen from Bray Head
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Coat of arms
Féile agus Fáilte  (Irish)
"Hospitality and Welcome"
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Location in Ireland
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Bray (Europe)
Coordinates: 53°12′04″N6°06′41″W / 53.20102°N 6.11136°W / 53.20102; -6.11136 Coordinates: 53°12′04″N6°06′41″W / 53.20102°N 6.11136°W / 53.20102; -6.11136
Province Leinster
County County Wicklow
Dáil Éireann Wicklow
EU Parliament South
  Total7.55 km2 (2.92 sq mi)
18 m (59 ft)
  Total32,600 [1]
  Rank 9th
  Density4,317/km2 (11,180/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+0 (WET)
  Summer (DST) UTC-1 (IST (WEST))
Eircode (Routing Key)
Area code(s) 01 (+3531)
Irish Grid Reference O264185
Map of Bray Map of Bray.png
Map of Bray

Bray (Irish : Bré [bʲɾʲeː] ) [2] is a coastal town in north County Wicklow, Ireland. It is situated about 20 km (12 mi) south of Dublin city centre on the east coast. It has a population of 32,600 making it the ninth largest urban area within Ireland (at the 2016 census). [1]


Bray was a resort town, and its proximity to Dublin make it a destination for tourists and day-trippers from the capital.[ citation needed ] Bray is home to Ardmore Studios, and some light industry is located in the town, with some business and retail parks on its southern periphery. Commuter links between Bray and Dublin are provided by rail, Dublin Bus and the M11 and M50 motorways.


The name Bray is an anglicisation of the Irish Bré, whose meaning is unclear. [2] Liam Price suggested it may be an old name for the River Dargle or a tributary. [2] In 1875 P. W. Joyce mistakenly ascribed the Irish name Brí, an old word meaning "hill", referring in this case to Bray Head. [2] [3] In a 1905 Gaelic League publication advocating use of Irish-language postal addresses, Seosamh Laoide coined the name Brí Cualann "Brí in Cualu", as part of his policy that "If the name of the town [in Irish] be one word, the [ancient Gaelic] territory should be added to it in the genitive case". [2] [4] Brí and Brí C[h]ualann remained in use in the mid 20th century despite having been refuted by Price and Osborn Bergin. [2] Bré was adopted by statute in 1975. [5]


In medieval times, Bray was on the southern border of the Pale, and the coastal district was governed directly by the English crown from Dublin Castle. Inland, the countryside was largely 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" [6] by Abraham Ortelius as "Brey". The Earl of Meath purchased the Killruddery Estate in Bray in 1627 with the establishment of the Earl title. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Bray was a small manorial village, but during the latter part of the 18th century, the Dublin middle-classes began to move to Bray.[ citation needed ]

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 a seaside resort. Hotels and residential terraces were built in the vicinity of the seafront. Railway entrepreneur William Dargan developed the Turkish baths, designed in a Moorish style at a cost of £10,000; these were demolished in 1980. [7] By the mid-20th century, the town's use as a resort had declined when foreign travel became an option for holiday-makers.[ citation needed ] However, day-trippers continued to come to Bray during the summer months.


Seafront and Bray Head Braybeach.jpg
Seafront and Bray Head

The town is situated on the east coast to the south of County Dublin. Shankill, County Dublin lies to the north, and Greystones, County Wicklow to the south. The village of Enniskerry lies to the west of the town, at the foot of the Wicklow Mountains. People participate in such sports as sailing, rowing, and swimming. The beach and seafront promenade are used by residents and visitors. While Bray's promenade and south beach is to a Blue Flag standard, [8] the north beach has been impacted by erosion and leaching pollution since the closure and sale of a municipal landfill in the late 20th century. [9] [10] [11]

The River Dargle which enters the sea at the north end of Bray rises from a source near Djouce, in the Wicklow Mountains. Bray Head is situated at the southern end of the 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. There is a large cross at the summit. [12]


Bray has a temperate oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfb), similar to most other towns in Ireland, with few extremes of temperature and ample precipitation all year round and an annual average rainfall of 800 millimetres (31 in). Weather in Bray is very similar to that of nearby Dublin. The average annual temperature is 9.9 °C (49.8 °F). [13]

Climate data for Bray, County Wicklow
Record high °C (°F)15
Average high °C (°F)8
Average low °C (°F)3
Record low °C (°F)−7
Average precipitation mm (inches)70
Average rainy days242223222021232320232422267
Average snowy days33220000001213
Average relative humidity (%) (daily average)85848279787880818385878782
Mean monthly sunshine hours 93113186210248240186186180155901242,011
Mean daily sunshine hours 3467886665345.5
Source: Weather2 Climate History for Bray [14]


Bray Daly railway station. IMG BrayDalyStation5405.jpg
Bray Daly railway station.


A public transport network, both north into Dublin and south into County Wicklow and County Wexford, serves the town. Bray is on the Irish Rail DART Rail Network which stretches north to Malahide and Howth and south to Greystones. The town is also on the mainline Iarnród Éireann InterCity and Commuter 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. [15]


Bray lies along the M11 motorway corridor; an interchange at its northern side links with the M50 Dublin bypass.

Six bus companies pass through Bray: Dublin Bus, Go-Ahead Ireland, Bus Éireann, Finnegan's Bray, Aircoach, and St. Kevin's Bus Service to Glendalough. Dublin Bus and Go-Ahead Ireland are the two primary bus operators in the town operating service on behalf of the NTA. Bus services serving the town include the 145 which serves the town between Ballywaltrim just south of Bray to Heuston Station serving UCD and Dublin city centre along the way. Other routes serving the town include the 45A/B, 84/A, 84N, 155, 184 and 185. Finnegan's Bray also offer a nightlink service from Dublin. [16] Aircoach operates a service to and from Dublin Airport.


Dublin Airport is reachable via the M50 which passes to the west of Dublin City. The AirCoach has two stops in Bray to and from Dublin Airport. [17] Newcastle Aerodrome is the closest private airfield a short distance south of Bray. [18]


Bray Harbour, October 2014 Bray Harbour, Co Wicklow, October 12 2014.jpg
Bray Harbour, October 2014

Bray has a growing population of permanent residents. It increases in the warmer seasons with tourists from Dublin and other countries.[ citation needed ]

Historical population

Local government

Old town hall Bray Town Hall.jpg
Old town hall

Bray is represented on Wicklow County Council by two local electoral areas. Bray East is wholly within the town, while Bray West also includes the neighbouring villages of Enniskerry and Kilmacanogue. Bray Municipal District consists of both of these local electoral areas. [19] [20]

At the 2019 Wicklow County Council election, the following were elected to represent Bray for a five-year term:

Bray East [21] Bray West [22]
Green Party Steven Matthews Independent Joe Behan
Sinn Féin Grace McManus Fine Gael Melanie Corrigan
Fine Gael Aoife Flynn Kennedy Sinn Féin Dermot O'Brian
Labour Party Anne Ferris Independent Rory O'Connor

Bray was formerly governed by an urban district council until this was replaced by a town council by the Local Government Act 2001. This, in turn, was abolished by the Local Government Reform Act 2014, with the powers and functions of the town council given to the county council, but its functions could be administered by the new municipal district council created under by the act.

Part of the northern Bray area lies within the local authority area of Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown, and forms part of the ShankillKilliney local electoral area. The border between County Wicklow and County Dublin (Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown) lies along Old Connaught Avenue and runs down along and across the Dublin Road to Ravenswell, making all areas north of that line Bray, County Dublin. [23]


Hillwalkers at the cross on the summit of Bray Head. Brayheadhillwalk.jpg
Hillwalkers at the cross on the summit of Bray Head.

Bray is a long-established holiday resort with hotels and guesthouses, shops, restaurants and evening entertainment. The town also hosts a number of festival events.

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. It has a beach of sand and shingle which is over 1.6 km (0.99 mi) long, fronted by an esplanade. Bray Head, which rises 241 m (791 ft) from the coast, has views of mountains and sea. The concrete cross at the top of the head was erected in 1950 for the holy year.

Killruddery House, an Elizabethan-Revival mansion built in the 1820s. Killruddery House, Co.Wicklow.jpg
Killruddery House, an Elizabethan-Revival mansion built in the 1820s.

Bray is used as a base for walkers, and has a mile-long promenade which stretches from the harbour, with its colony of mute swans, to the base of Bray Head at the southern end. A track leads to the summit. Also used by walkers is the 7 km (4.3 mi) Cliff Walk along Bray Head out to Greystones.

In January 2010, Bray was named the "cleanest town in Ireland" in the 2009 Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) survey of 60 towns and cities. [24]

Tourist sites

Tourist sites in the area include the Elizabethan-revival mansion Killruddery House (which is open to the public in the summer months), [25] and the hill and headland at Bray Head (which has a number of walking trails). [26] Raheen-a-Cluig, a medieval church which is catalogued as national monument, is located on the north face of Bray Head. Other religious sites and churches in the area include the Fassaroe Cross (12th century), [27] the Holy Redeemer Church, Bray (1792), and the Gothic Revival churches of Christ Church (1863) and Bray Methodist Church (1864).

Festivals and events

Bray Air Show 2016 Bray Air Show 2016.jpg
Bray Air Show 2016

The Bray St. Patrick's Carnival and Parade is presented by Bray & District Chamber to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day, and is a five-day festival of carnival events, parades and live entertainment.[ citation needed ]

Bray also hosts a yearly silent film festival, the Killruddery Film Festival in Killruddery Gardens. [28] Bray Jazz Festival takes place annually on the May bank holiday weekend and includes performances by jazz and world music artists.

The annual Bray Summerfest takes place over six weeks in July and August and includes free entertainment, live music, markets, sporting events, and carnivals. Performers who have headlined include Mundy, Brian Kennedy, the Undertones, the Hothouse Flowers and Mary Black. In 2006, over 60,000 visitors attended the festival weekend in mid-July.[ citation needed ]

Hell & Back is an adventure race that takes place in Kilruddery Estates. [29] The 10 km Cliff Run from Bray to Greystones is an annual run on the coast around Bray Head Mountain. [30]

Pubs and restaurants

Bray's pubs and restaurants include the first Porterhouse bar, who brew their own ales, stouts and beers. [31] 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. [32] The O'Toole family owned the bar for three generations, but it was bought by the Duggan family in 2013. [33] The Duggans also operate two seafront premises, Katie Gallagher's and the Martello, both include restaurants on site.

There are twelve fully licensed restaurants, several unlicensed restaurants and cafes, and fast food outlets in Bray. 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. [34]



Bray is home to Ireland's oldest film studios, Ardmore Studios, established in 1958, where films such as Excalibur , Braveheart and Breakfast on Pluto have been shot. Custer's Last Stand-up was filmed in Bray [35] and the town was also used to film Neil Jordan's 2012 film Byzantium , part of which was shot in the Bray Head Inn. [36] Neil Jordan's 1991 film The Miracle is set in Bray. [37]

The Mermaid Arts Centre is the only venue for cinema in Bray.[ citation needed ]

Theatre and literature

Bray hosts a number of theatre groups including the Bray Arts and Square One Theatre Group, [38] in venues venue such as the Mermaid Arts Centre.[ citation needed ]

Authors who have lived in Bray have included James Joyce, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Molly Keane and Neil Jordan. Situated on Eglinton Road is a Carnegie Library dating from 1910. [39] There is also another library serving the Ballywaltrim district on Boghall Road, at the southern end of the town


The Bray People newspaper is focused on the news in the local areas and neighbourhoods, as does the freesheet Wicklow Times (North Edition). [40] East Coast FM Radio Station also operates locally. [41]


Bray is home to League of Ireland football club Bray Wanderers who play at the Carlisle Grounds. It also hosts schoolboy football club Ardmore Rovers and Wolfe Tone F.C. The local Gaelic Athletic Association club is Bray Emmets. [42] Established in 1885, the club hosts the annual All-Ireland Kick Fada Championship. [43]

There are a number of golf clubs and pitch & putt courses in the area, including Bray Golf Club, Dun Laoghaire Golf Club, and Old Conna Golf Club. [44] [45] Bray is also host to Bray Bowling Club, which trains in Fáilte Park, [46] and there is 10 Pin Bowling at the Bray Bowling Alley. [47]

There is fishing in both the River Dargle and on the sea coastline, and a number of clubs locally, including Bray Head Fishing Club and Dargle Anglers Club. [48] Other clubs and facilities in the area include Bray Wheelers Cycling Club, [49] Brennanstown Riding School, [50] Bray Sailing Club, [51] and Wicklow Lawn Tennis Club - the latter founded in 1894 and located on Vevay Road. [52]

Presentation College, Bray Parking lot at Presentation College, Bray, Ireland.jpg
Presentation College, Bray

A short-lived greyhound racing track existed in the town from 1949 until 1955, run by the Bray Greyhound Racing Association Ltd. [53] In December 1947, notice was given that a track would be constructed at Sunnybank but the Wicklow County Manager refused the application. However, the greyhound company continued to build the facilities and in 1949 the track opened. It was not until 1950 that the High Court ruled against the company for building without planning permission and levied a fine of £470. The dispute continued until, in 1955, the track was bought by Bray Urban Council under a compulsory purchase order. The site, consisting of almost five acres, was bought at £440 per acre, and 36 houses were built on the land. [54]

Thousands of people turned out on the seafront to see Olympic boxing champion Katie Taylor, return home from London in August 2012. [55]


There are approximately 13 primary schools in the Bray area, including national schools (like Saint Cronan's Boys' National School), [56] gaelscoileanna, a co-educational day school (St. Gerard's School), [57] and schools for special needs. Secondary schools in the area include Saint Brendan's College, Loreto Secondary School and St. Kilian's Community School and Presentation College, Bray. A number of "English as a foreign language" and third-level schools also operate locally, including Bray Institute of Further Education. [58]


Bray has a number of commercial and industrial parks, including Bray Industrial Estate, Killarney Road Industrial Estate, Solus Tower Industrial Estate, and Southern Cross Business Park.[ citation needed ]


Swans where the Dargle flows into the harbour IMGDargleSwans 3476.jpg
Swans where the Dargle flows into the harbour
Christ Church, Bray IMG CoIBray2872.jpg
Christ Church, Bray

Former or current residents of the town have included:

Twin towns

Bray from Bray Head Bray from Bray Head.jpg
Bray from Bray Head

Bray has town twinning agreements with: [73] [74]

Related Research Articles

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