"A walk around the streets of Bray starting and finishing at the Bray (Daly) Railway Station."
- Distance: 5 kilometers approx.
- Time: 1.1/2 hours
- Degree of Difficulty: Very Moderate
Leaving (Daly) Bray station we cross the road and turn right, walking to the corner and then across the Quinsborough Road to the War Memorial. This memorial commemorates the 155 Bray men who died in the 1st World War . Turning left we pass the Carlisle Grounds home of Bray Wanderers A.F.C. (The Seagulls) est. 1922. The turning to the right brings us onto Seymour Road, named after the Seymour's, a family of merchants. The Seymour's were ship owners and brewers who built a dock at the mouth of the River Dargle in the late 18th century. Unfortunately this dock became landlocked in the 1850s with the building of the railway bridge. Mrs Francis Seymour was the author of a book on local history entitled 'A Hundred years of Bray and its Neighbourhood' a description of the town between 1770 and 1870.
The building on the left hand side, on the corner of Seymour Road and Duncairn Lane was the studio of the sculptor and painter Yann Renard Goulet RHA. At the end of the road we reach the junction with Seapoint Road. Liam O'Flaherty, author of 'The Informer' lived on this road for a short time in the 1920s. Turning right onto this road we walk down the hill towards the railway bridge you will note a Martello Tower on our right . These towers were built by the British as a defence against Napoleon in the early years of the 19th century. This tower, now a private residence was once the property of the rock star 'Bono'. Walking under the railway bridge we pass the 'Harbour Bar' on the left, this interesting old pub has probably been used as a location for more films than any other pub in the country.
A short distance away on our left is Bray Harbour. A small harbour, dry at low tide, is home to a large herd of Mute Swans as well as Duck, Geese, Herons, Cormorants and a variety of rare Gulls. Walking across the road from the Harbour Bar we come to Martello Terrace. No.1 Martello Terrace was the home of James Joyce who lived here from 1887 to 1891. It was here that the Christmas dinner scene in 'Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man' took place. Martello Terrace was also once the home of the film director Niall Jordan.
Walking now in a Southerly direction along the Victorian Promenade, on our right we first come to O'Driscoll's Seaside Bar, currently owned by Jacky O'Driscoll, a grand nephew of James Joyce. Passing the Sealife Aquarium and the Fun Palace we come to Brennan's Terrace one-time summer home to the playwright Lennox Robinson. The novelist Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu also lived here while recuperating from a serious illness.
Walking on we come to the Esplanade Terrace between Victoria Avenue and Convent Avenue. It was here in 1835 that workmen uncovered what was believed to be a Roman Burial site. Strolling along the Promenade during the summer months we can observe Common, Little and Sandwich Terns fishing along the coast where grey seals have been seen from time to time. Sir William and Lady Jane Wilde built Esplanade Terrace and Elsinore (now the Strand Hotel) as an investment. Oscar Wide inherited the properties in 1876 and sold them in 1878. Oscar had promised one of these properties to two different people and as a result ended up in Bray Court. Sir William Wilde and Lady Jane Wilde were believed locally to have rented 'Tower Cottage' on the corner of Strand Road and Putland Road while their other properties were let out. A little further along is where Martello Tower stood, on a site at the end of the Promenade railings. Nearby a small stream known as the 'Cockbrook' flows into the sea. Walking on past Esplanade Terrace we come to the Esplanade Hotel built on the site of the Old Coastguard Station in 1897. Nearby stood 'Rose Cottage' (demolished in 2004) this was once the home of Jack Cranley. A retired Royal Navy man who was serving with the coastguard when the 1st War broke out, he then rejoined the Navy but he was struck down by cholera while serving in the Indian Ocean and he was buried at sea. Walking on as far as the Coastguard boathouse No.28 we cross the road and proceed up the Putland Hill. The red brick building on our left is the new Coastguard Station.
As we go up the Putland Hill we take the right turn onto the Meath Road, now walking in a northerly direction. On our left hand side we pass some bungalows which were built on the site of the old Aravon School cricket grounds. The first junction we come to is the Convent Avenue, a short distance up on our left is a house called Ravenna, once the home of the novelist Richard Power. Further along we come to Milward Terrace, an imposing Victorian terrace built in 1864. Joshua Pim, the tennis champion once lived here as did the Labour Leader Roddy Connolly. Across the road from here is a housing estate called Aravon Court this was the original site of 'Aravon School', amongst its pupils were John Millington Synge the dramatist and Roger Casement, the Patriot. The novelist Monk Gibbon taught here at one time. A little further on is a house called 'Glenard' where Peggy Dell lived, Peggy was a concert artist and member of the 'Tisdell Concert Party' and on the right hand side of the road at lived author and playwright, Philip Rooney.
Turning left at the junction of Sidmonton Avenue we walk up the hill past Glenard Avenue and Meath Place until we reach the junction with Sidmonton Square and Kingsmill Road. On our left is Sidmonton Square once the home of the painter Paul Henry. The gardens of Meath Road, Sidmonton Square, Novara Road and Herbert Road are rich in songbirds and woodland birds such as Sparrow, Thrush, Blackbirds, Robin and Wren. Also Foxes, Grey and Red Squirrel are often seen in this area. A variety of Butterflies can be spotted in the summer months with Speckled Wood, Large, Small and Green Vented Whites, Small Tortoiseshell, Hollyblue and Peacock are all in evidence as well as migrants such as the Red Admiral and Painted Lady. Walking on past Sidmonton Square we turn right into Novara Avenue and walk on until we come to the Main Street. Almost directly opposite us on the Main Street is a restaurant called 'Jasmine House', this building was once the home of Cearbhall O'Dalaigh.
Crossing over the Main Street we turn right into Parnell Road and walk to the junction of Herbert Road. Here at No. 4 lived the novelist James Plunkett Kelly. At the junction with Herbert Road we turn right and walk back toward the Main Street, where we come to Herbert Terrace on the left hand side of the road. No. 2 Herbert Terrace is presently home to Dick Roche TD, Minister for the Environment (2005) and was once the home of Sir Herbert Hamilton Harty, conductor of the Halle Orchestra 1920-1930. Crossing over the Main Street at the lights we walk down the Quinsborough Road, on past the shops on our right hand side and we come to Prince of Wales Terrace. At No. 2 lived William Larminie the folklorist and at No. 11 lived Captain Albert A. Bestic.
We are now back at the Railway Station, and I hope you have enjoyed our stroll around the Historic Streets of Bray.