A HOLIDAY RESORT IN COUNTY WICKLOW
When I was young my father promised to bring us to Disneyland, as a reward, and we ended up in Bray and had a great time … I must admit that I became soon began to suspect that we had been conned.
Back in the 1970s my business was based in Bray. I imported and sold hi-fi equipment, I imported and retailed records [vinyl] and had a large stake in Bray Local Broadcasting [later became East Coast Radio]. However, for a variety of reasons I moved to Santa Clara in California to join Memorex as a Quality Engineer. At a later date I became a core member of the team responsible for establish Memorex operations in Europe. Anyway, I really enjoyed my association with the town of Bray.
When I was based in Bray it was well past its peak as a holiday town but it was a prosperous town which why I located there.
Bray is a coastal town in north County Wicklow, Ireland. It is situated about twenty km (12 mi) south of Dublin city centre on the east coast. It has a population of 33,512 making it the tenth largest urban area within Ireland (at the 2022 census). 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. Small parts of the town’s northern outskirts are in County Dublin.
Originally developed as a planned resort town in the 19th century, Bray’s popularity as a seaside resort was serviced by the Dublin and Kingstown Railway, which was extended to Bray in 1854. During the late 20th century, the town’s use as a resort declined when foreign travel became an option for holiday-makers. However, day-trippers continued to come to Bray during the summer months.
Bray’s pubs and restaurants include the first Porterhouse bar, who brew 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. The O’Toole family owned the bar for three generations, but it was bought by the Duggan family in 2013. 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.
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 and the town was also used to film Neil Jordan’s 2012 film Byzantium, part of which was shot in the Bray Head Inn. Neil Jordan’s 1991 film The Miracle is set in Bray.