BRAY, a maritime town in Rathdown barony, partly in Dublin county, but chiefly in that of Wicklow, 12 miles S.E. by S. from Dublin, comprising an area of 124 acres. Population, 3,169. It is situate close to the site on the Bray river, which here forms a boundary between Dublin and Wicklow counties.
The name originally written Brea, is derived from the well known headland S. of the town, called Bray head, a premonitory of clay slate, 791 feet above the sea at high water. In 1173 the manor was granted by the Earl of Pembroke then Lord Deputy, to Walter de Riddlesford, one of the early Norman adventurers. In 1215 file Abbot of the Monastery of St. Thomas, near Dublin obtained it at a rent of three and a fine of 60 marks. In these as well as subsequent times it was frequently assailed by the mountain septs of the O'Byrnes and O'Tooles. In 1316 they destroyed the castle, but were defeated on the same day by an English force under Edmond Le Boteler. In 1402 it was the scene of a great battle between the before-named septs and the citizens of Dublin headed by John Drake, their Provost; where, on the authority of Ware and Camden, 4,000, but according to De Marbligge, 400 of the Irish were slain. At the dissolution of religious houses the manor, among other land, of the Abbey of St. Thomas, was granted to Sir Thomas Brabazon, an ancestor of the Earl of Meath, who enjoy in fee to the present time the greater part of the town.
The chief portion of the town is on the Wicklow side of the river, and consists of one long irregular street, from which several avenues and lanes diverge, right and left , and at the head of the town two roads branch off, fined With neat houses and cottages-that on the left, being the lower or sea-side road to Wicklow, passes the house and demesne of Kilruddery, over the hill of Windgates; the road to tile right runs through the Glen of the Downs and on to Delgany and Newtownmountkennedy. This portion of the town contains altogether 421 houses. That part of the town which is situate in the county of Dublin is called LITTLE BRAY, in the parish of Old Connaught, and contain, 160 house,, and cottages. The public buildings, which are all on the Wicklow side, are the Parish Church, a spacious and neatly built Roman Catholic Chapel, a small Presbyterian Meeting-house, and a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel. At Crinken, near Little Bray, is a new and handsome, church dedicated to St. James, with a Norman pinnacled tower and neat, clock. The Court House is a small, plain, but appropriate structure, on an eminence near the river, which is here crossed by an old dilapidated bridge of four arches, from whence the tidal estuary extends. It has a Fever Hospital and Dispensary, a Savings' Bank and Loan Fund Board, and National Schools for both sexes. The houses are tolerably well built, and the place has a cheerful and interesting appearance. Quin’s hotel and posting-house is a first-rate establishment, possessing on a large scale superior accommodation for families and visitors, with hot and cold baths ; the pleasure grounds extending to the sell are neatly laid out and form a promenade half a mile in length The chief trade carried on here is in the importance of coal slate, and Sutton limestone, in which several small craft are engaged. The exports are grain. The only manufacture is porter, ale, and beer, of which there is one brewery. Quarter and Petty Sessions are held here the latter every alternate Saturday. There are Constabulary Police Stations at each side of the river, and Coast Guard Stations on the beach. The markets are on Tuesday and Saturday, and are abundantly supplied with provisions. Fairs for frieze are held on January 12, May 4, August 5, and November 13. Cattle fairs an, held on the 1st March, May, and July, August 16, September 20, and December 14. The parish of Bray comprises an area of 2,986 acres, and, with the Wicklow portion of the town, 3,326 inhabitants. The scenery by sea and land is strikingly bold, diversified, and interesting, and it abounds in elegant mansions and villa residences, the principal of which is Kilruddery, the splendid Seat of the Earl of Meath, in a demesne of upwards of 900 acres bounded by the Lesser Sugar Loaf Mountain, which here rises 1,120 feet above the level of the sea. The Bray river abounds in excellent trout. The Kingstown railway terminus is 6 miles from Bray, from whence an extension is about to be made to connect the town with the metropolis, and for which an Act was passed in 1846. Another line from Dublin is proposed that will connect the town with Wicklow in its course to Wexford and Waterford, and, if carried into operation, will cross the estuary between the bridge and mouth of the l Haven and cut through Bray Head by a tunnel.
The conveyances to and from Bray are numerous, and at all hours coaches, caravans, omnibuses, and cars ply for 1s each passenger; those of Mr. Quin's establishment run from and to the railway at Kingstown in as hour, and proceed by the road that runs through the Vale of Shanganagh. The mail arrives from Dublin at 25 minutes past 9, P.m., and is despatched at 26 minutes past 2 A.M.; besides there is a day mail car that arrives at 20 minutes past 9, a.m., and is despatched at 12 minutes past 3, P.M. The Post Office grant and pay money orders.