Seaside town and home of Ardmore Studios
Bray is a historic seaside town, and satellite town of Dublin on the East Coast of Ireland, located in Co. Wicklow. Bray has been a place of importance since the twelfth century, and there were two castles there in mediaeval times, one of which still survives at Oldcourt. It was, at one time, a very fashionable resort for the wealthier of the Dublin citizens and of the gentry from a large part of Ireland. The town underwent rapid expansion in 1854 when William Dargan extended the railway to Bray. There are few surviving buildings from the period prior to 1850. It has begun, over the past 50 years, to rapidly expand as a commuter town.
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.
Finnegans Bray runs a local service from the DART station to the Southern Cross Road. They usually arrive every 30 minutes and are easily visible by their red colours. A Luas service also operates Mon-Sat at specific times. This service travels from the Southern Cross Road to the Luas station in Sandyford. It does not go to the DART station and so you will need to go to Bray Main Street.
What to see
Bray Head - a mile-long walk along the coast. Walking from there you can also see the esplande, begun in 1881, has a quiet Victorian charm, despite the amusement arcades.
Ardmore Studios - the National Film Studios of Ireland. Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan and My Left Foot were filmed there.
Kilruddery House - on the Southern Cross Road, off the Greystones Road, has been the home of the Earls of Meath for 350 years. The garden was laid out by Monsieur Bonet in 1682, and is one of the few gardens to survive the fashion for romantic naturalistic landscaping. The twin canals, known as the Long Ponds, are 152m in length and are similar to those at the Chateau de Courances.
James Joyce House - 1 Martello Terrace. Home of the author as a child, from 1887-1891. This house is overlooked by a Martello Tower, owned for a time by Bono (lead singer with Irish rock group U2) during the 1980's. It's a 5 minute walk from the town centre.
What to do
Walk the Cliff Walk - from Bray to Greystones which takes around 1.30 hours and is a beautiful walk with wonderful views and wildlife, you may be lucky enough to see the feral goats. The cliff walk follows the route of the railway line, which was a remarkable feat of Victorian engineering. The tunnels run under Bray Head and were necessary because the Earl of Meath would not allow the railway to run through his lands at Kilruddery. The tunnels were designed by engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the original brick ventilation shafts are still visible along the route of the cliff walk.
Bray Harbour - (Turn left as you cross the bridge). Bray harbour is now a wildlife reserve where you can see literally dozens of Swans and some Chinese geese.
Festina Lente Garden - This is a two acre restored Victorian walled garden on Old Connaught Avenue. Wonderful double herbaceous borders and vegetable garden.
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.
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.
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. Bray seafront bars are characterised by extensive open air terraces, catering for large crowds during the summer. Most provide bar food.
There are numerous 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.
Around and about
Powerscourt - is one of Ireland's most famous houses and gardens, and is located south of Bray in the landlord village of Enniskerry. The house was designed by Richard Castle in 1741, for Viscount Powerscourt, in the style of an imposing Palazzo. The landscaping was remodelled a century later in the fashionable Italian manner. The design is believed to be based on Villa Butera in Sicily. The Japanese garden is an Edwardian addition; look out also for the pet cemetery. The waterfall in the Powerscourt estate is the highest in Ireland at 121 m and there are lots of woodland walks - Further information
Glendalough - is located within Wicklow Mountains National Park. There are a number of early Christian monastic buildings, including several churches and a round tower. The area around the twin lakes is of outstanding natural beauty - Further information
Glencree German War Cemetery - approximately 10km from Enniskerry village, not easy to get to by public transport. There are 134 graves, mostly air force and navy personnel from World War II, very moving and a beautiful setting. Dr Hermann Görtz, a German spy, is also buried there. The single free-standing stone cross in the rear right hand corner of the cemetery was carved by him during his internment. Glencree Reconciliation Centre is across the road.
The Wicklow Way - explore all or part of Ireland's longest self-guided walking trail, at 127 km long. Expect the complete route to take 5-6 days. The Wicklow Way combines easy accessibility with a wide variety of scenic experiences, some of them in truly remote upland areas.