Memory Lane: Bray Promenade

For this issue of our Memory Lanes Series, we will be taking in the sights and sounds of the coastal mecca that is Bray Promenade and Strand Road which runs adjacent to it.


History of Bray

ezgif-com-gif-maker-(81).jpgFor a lot of people, their trip to this Wicklow seaside town begins at Bray Daly Train Station, as they hop of a DART or one of the many buses that stop outside the station. It is named after one Edward Daly, a Limerick man who commandeered some 260 ‘Volunteers’ that based themselves around the four courts area during the 1916 Rising. After surrendering to the British forces, he was firstly taken to Richmond Barracks in Inchicore and then Kilmainham Gaol, where he was executed on May 4th 1916.

After a short walk down Station Road and Quinnsbrough Road, we have reached our destination on Strand Road/Bray Promenade. At the start of the road, you are greeted by the sight of a row of beautiful terraced houses, with very ornate balconies to boot. These 8 residences were said to have been built in 1860 and at one stage a very famous resident lived in Number 1, no less than the world renowned author James Joyce.

A year before, in 1859, the famous engineer William Dargan managed to obtain a lease for a stretch of the coastline from it’s owner, the Earl of Meath and the first inception of what is now known as Bray Promenade, was created. It was built to complement the railway that opened in 1834 in an effort to entice more Dubliners to use the train. If history is your thing, why not check out our blog on the famous 1916 Rising Buildings throughout Ireland.

Things to see and do in Bray

ezgif-com-gif-maker-(82).jpgAs we walk past more splendid Victorian houses-interspersed with some very modern looking dwellings - we come across just some of the many eateries you can find on Strand Road and the streets adjoining it. There is a wide range of food choices from Indian dishes, chicken wings, pizza’s, burgers or fresh seafood - you can find them all here at the various establishments located side-by-side at the Strand Road/Quinsborough Road junction.

As we continue our walk along the Promenade we now arrive at a place that excites and delights kids of all area – Bray SeaLife Centre. There are sharks, ray’s, seahorses, octopuses and many other creatures of the sea, plenty of excitement and fun for all ages. The Bray Seafront is renowned for is the lovely huts selling sweets, ice-creams and beach toys. We here in Geodirectory are particularly partial to a Teddy’s 99, which can be obtained in one the aforementioned huts.

Another famous seaside resident, who still resides on the Strand Road to this day is the world renowned Grammy Award winning singer, SineĆ”d O’ Connor. Born in the South Dublin suburb of Glenageary, O’ Connor gained the world’s attention in 1990 when her cover of Prince’s “Nothing compares 2 U” spent 4 weeks at No.1 in the US charts and also reached Number 1 in many other countries.

Up until recently, a B&B named “Ulysses” was located next door, a nod to one of Bray’s most famous former residents, James Joyce, and the great book he wrote. First published in 1922, the book chronicles a number of characters and their travails, as they wander around Dublin on one day, June 16, 1904.

Events in Bray

ezgif-com-gif-maker-(83).jpgTurning seawards, we notice the famous and rather regal looking bandstand, which for years has been the focal point for ‘Bray Summerfest’, where the cream of Irish and international musical talent have entertained the masses be it lashing rain or sun splitting the stones weather. Back in the day when it first opened, the Promenade would have played host to the likes of Punch ‘n’ Judy Shows, riding on a Donkey or other types of Victorian entertainments.

In 1952, the popularity of Bray Promenade reached unprecedented new heights as a chairlift came into operation. Eamonn Quinn (Father of Superquinn impresario Fergal Quinn) owned a number of Holiday Parks in places such as Skerries and Bray then went onto buy the Eagles Nest Restaurant and Dance Hall. At this point it was not possible to walk up to the venue due to the steep incline and people had to hop aboard a horse and cart instead. Inspired at what he saw while on a trip to Switzerland, Quinn oversaw the construction of a chairlift, that took people from the promenade up to his restaurant. 

Some people would then head further on up Bray Head to the Cross at the top, which had been constructed in 1950. The chairlift cease operations in 1970, with rising insurance costs cited as to the reason for its closure. Having seen photos of it in action, we shudder to think what today’s Health and Safety Officials would have thought of it!

A more recent addition to the area is the large playground, which is located at the junction with Victoria Avenue. It contains many fun contraptions to keep your kids happily occupied. On your next Bray visit, use GeoFindIT to find the nearest playgrounds and keep the kids happy for hours on end.

We have now come to the end of Strand Road/Bray Promenade and as we count the large queue at the famous take away establishment many refer to simply as “The Hut”, we are brought back to a famous place that used to live next door. Dawson’s amusements was heaven on days where one would be taken to Bray for a day out on a day that started out sunny with ne’er a cloud in the sky, but typical of the Irish weather, an hour later when you had arrived in Bray the dark cloud had arrived as the rain started to bucket down. I’m sure many of ye reading this will also remember going on the Ghost Train or racing around in the Bumper Cars, before going onto shoot some targets with a rifle or downing enemy aircraft in the Sega arcade classic, “After Burner”.

From this point, one could head back to the Dart Station, or walk further on to either go up Bray Head or take the beautiful scenic coastal path to Greystones.

To plan your next trip or Summer staycation to Bray, download our free award-winning app GeoFindIT HERE – it's packed full of information on bus and train times as well as the best places to eat, drink or provide entertainment in the bustling town of Bray.

If you enjoyed this blog, you may enjoy our blog on the Top Locations To Walk Your Dog in Ireland, including Bray Head and more wonderful walkways across the country.

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Posted: 19/05/2021 11:53:30

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