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The town as seen from Bray Head
The town as seen from Bray Head
Coat of arms of Bray
Coat of arms
Motto: Féile agus Fáilte  (Irish)
"Hospitality and Welcome"
Bray is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Country Ireland
Province Leinster
County County Wicklow
Dáil Éireann Wicklow
EU Parliament South
Elevation 18 m (59 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Rank 9th
 • Urban 26,852[1]
 • Rural 5,020
Time zone WET (UTC+0)
 • Summer (DST) IST (WEST) (UTC-1)
Irish Grid Reference O264185
Website .ie.braywww

Bray (Irish: Bré, meaning "hill", formerly Brí Chualann) is a town in north County Wicklow, Ireland. 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.[1] It is situated about 20 km (12 mi) south of Dublin on the east coast. The town straddles the Dublin-Wicklow border, with a portion of the northern suburbs situated in County Dublin.

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 Ireland's only film studios, 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.


  • Etymology 1
  • History 2
  • Geography 3
  • Local government 4
  • Transport 5
  • Tourism 6
    • Festivals 6.1
    • Pubs and restaurants 6.2
  • Filmmaking 7
  • Education 8
  • Notable people 9
  • International relations 10
  • See also 11
  • Gallery 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14


The name of the town means hill or rising ground, possibly referring to the gradual incline of the town from the Dargle Bridge to Vevay Hill.


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.

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.[2] The town continued to thrive following Independence but the outbreak of World War II 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.[3]


The seafront and Bray Head

The River Dargle which enters the sea at the north end of Bray rises from a source near Kippure, in the Wicklow Mountains. 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.

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.

Local government

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 8 councillors which also sit on the Bray Municipal Council.

Bray's 8 County Councillors are:

  • Brendan Thornhill (Ind; Cathaoirleach of the Bray Municipal District)
  • Steven Matthews (GP; Leas-Cathaoirleach of the Bray Municipal District)
  • Joe Behan (Ind)
  • John Brady (SF)
  • Christopher Fox (Ind)
  • Oliver O'Brien (SF)
  • John Ryan (FG)
  • Pat Vance (FF)


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 train station is named after Edward Daly, an executed leader of the 1916 Easter Rising. Bray Station was opened on 10 July 1854.[4] 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.

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.[5] Aircoach operates an hourly service to and from Dublin Airport.

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.

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


Hillwalkers at the cross on the summit of Bray Head.

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.

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.[6]


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.

Bray also hosts a large carnival and festival events to celebrate the annual Saint Patrick's Day holiday. The Bray St. Patrick's Carnival & Parade is presented by Bray & District Chamber and is a five-day festival of carnival fun, parades, and live entertainment.

Bray hosts an annual jazz festival on the May bank holiday weekend each year. Described by The Irish Times as "the connoisseur's jazz festival", Bray Jazz Festival has established itself as one of the main events taking place each year on the Irish jazz calendar. Established in 2000, the festival includes performances by jazz and world music artists from Ireland and abroad, and was described by All About Jazz as "one of the very best small jazz festivals in Europe". In 2011 performers included BBC jazz singer of the year Christine Tobin, three times Grammy Award nominated Brazilian player Hamilton de Holanda, and American jazz guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel.

It also hosts a yearly silent film festival, The Killruddery Film Festival in Killruddery Gardens, this runs from 13 to 15 April 2012. It shows such films as La Roue and Camille.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9] The O'Toole family owned the bar for three generations, but was bought by the Duggan family in 2013.[10]

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 10 towns and cities included, with just 0.09 stores per 1000 people.[11]


Bray is home to Ireland's oldest film studios, Ardmore Studios, where films such as Excalibur, Braveheart, and Breakfast on Pluto have been shot.

The Bray Head Inn, the hotel of choice for the Victorians circa 1860, has been used for a variety of movies over the last 25 years.

Custer's Last Stand-up was filmed in Bray[12] and the town was also used to film Neil Jordan's film Byzantium, part of which was shot in the Bray Head Inn.[13]


Primary schools:

  • St. Kieran's NS for Travelling Children
  • St. Fergal's Junior and Senior School
  • St. Peter's NS
  • St. Philomena's NS[14]
  • Saint Cronan's Boys' National School[15]
  • St. Andrew's NS[14]
  • Gaelscoil Uí Cheadaigh[14]
  • Scoil Chualann[14]
  • Bray School Project NS[14]
  • St. Patrick's NS[14]

Newcourt Special School

St Gerards NS

Secondary schools:

Further Education:

  • Bray Institute of Further Education[23]

Elian's Dublin, a Spanish international school, was located in Bray.[24][25]

Notable people

Swans where the Dargle flows into the harbour

The following are former or current residents of the town.

International relations

Bray has town twinning agreements with:

See also



  1. ^ a b "Bray Legal Town Results".  
  2. ^ "Bray's Turkish Baths". 
  3. ^ "Triumphant Bray homecoming for Olympic hero Katie Taylor". Irish Independent (Independent News & Media). 13 August 2012. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  4. ^ "Bray station" (PDF). Railscot – Irish Railways. Retrieved 8 September 2007. 
  5. ^ "Night bus to Bray/ Greystones/Kilcoole". 
  6. ^ "Bray named as cleanest town". Irish Times. 4 January 2010. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  7. ^ "Lillruddery Film Festival". 
  8. ^ "The Porterhouse Brewery". 
  9. ^ "Greatest little pub in the world". Irish Independent. 25 November 2010. Retrieved 25 November 2010. 
  10. ^ "Harbour Bar". 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Brendan, Grehan (6 December 2001). "Bray-based TV series wins top BAFTA award". ( 
  13. ^ "Neil Jordan film will stop traffic". Bray People. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f "Bray: Primary Schools". 
  15. ^ "St Cronan's Boys' National School". 
  16. ^ "St. Kilian's Community School(91376L) – SLSS". 
  17. ^ "Coláiste Ráithín". 
  18. ^ "St Thomas Community College Bray". 
  19. ^ "St. Brendans College – Bray, Co. Wicklow: Saint Brendans". 
  20. ^ "Pres Bray". Pres Bray. 5 September 1921. 
  21. ^ "Loreto Bray Secondary School". 
  22. ^ "St Gerards School Bray". 
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Home" (Archive), IALE Elian's. 4 May 2007. Retrieved on 30 September 2015. Click the respective links to get content related to Elian's Dublin. The location information is in Elian's Dublin > "Situación"
  25. ^ "Registro Estatal de Centros Docentes no Universitarios (RCD)." Ministry of Education (Spain). Retrieved on 30 September 2015. "BANNON ROAD OLD COLLAUGHT AVENUE" Select "Centros en el Exterior" and search for centre code "60000992" and/or "ELIAN'S DUBLIN"

External links

  • Bray on-line
  • Bray Town Council
  • Bray on Wicklow Tourism
  • 1837Lewis Topographical Dictionary of IrelandBray in
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