Description of the town of Bray – 1822

From ‘Guide to the County of Wicklow’ by Rev. G.N. Wright
Published by Baldwin, Cradock and Joy, Paternoster Row (London) 1822


The town of Bray is situated upon a river of same 
name, the boundary of the county Wicklow, ten miles from Dublin, and within less than a quarter of a mile of the sea; part stands on the Dublin side of the river, but the greater portion is in the county Wicklow. On every side are gentlemen’s seats, improved in the most expensive manner, and with admirable taste. Near the bridge, on the Dublin side, is Ravenswell, formerly the seat of the Rowleys, but now let to yearly tenants; and, at the upper end of the town, on the Kilruddery road, are several exceedingly neat cottages, which lot for the season at rents of nearly 100 l. each. Behind the town, as you approach from Dublin, rises Bray head, a lofty and commanding promontory, its outline bold and irregular, its colour always dark and gloomy, and its sides precipitous and rugged; this, we mentioned, was seen by the traveller under very peculiar and pleasing circumstances, for the first time, from the Killiney Hills. The river of Bray, which is the same that flows through the Dargle, is spread over a wide waste of moory strand, for a distance of a mile from the town: the body of water is not considerable, while the fall is sufficiently great; so that, by a little embanking, and the erection of one or two weirs between the Dargle and the mouth of the river, this valley and the trout fishery would be much improved, a great quantity of land, now barren, recovered, and the number of water-falls would form a series of pretty objects in the drive towards the Dargle.

  Bray is a rectory in the diocese of Dublin: the church, which stands on the river’s side, is tolerably large and comfortable, and ornamented with a steeple and spire. Divine service is attended in summer by great numbers of persons of rank and respectability, the neighbourhood being still a fashionable bathing place. There is a regular post here, and two Fairs are held in each year, on the 1st of May and the 20th of September, where great quantities of frize and flannel are exhibited for sale, and some black cattle and sheep. In the town of Bray is Quin’s famous hotel ; his house is large, and kept with neatness, regularity, and elegance; his charges moderate, and the accommodation and attendance cannot he excelled. Quin’s chaises are superior in decoration and style of equipment to any thing in England; and, besides these, he is supplied with a number of handsome barouchos, for the accommodation of parties visiting the beautiful scenery in this neighbourhood, and in every part of Wicklow. Quin was the first person who introduced an elegant and improved style of posting into this kingdom, and has carried it to such a degree of perfection that he is never likely to be rivalled. Had there been many such improving and spirited persons placed on the head of respectable establishments through the kingdom, intercourse and civilization would have advanced more rapidly, and Ireland had been spared the censure and the laugh raised against her, by one of her most distinguished novelists, in the story of the Knockacrockery Post-boy.

  In front of the inn are the arms of the Earl of Meath, to whom most of the town of Bray belongs. There is an old castle at Bray, near which a desperate battle was fought in 1690, between the armies of William and James. Here are, also, a handsome Roman Catholic Chapel and a barrack for infantry. The road in front of Quin’s hotel leads to the seashore; the strand is shelving and pebbly, and bathing is practicable at all hours. No attempt has ever been made to improve the harbour, so that only small craft come near this town; there is neither quay, wharf, nor pier. It was once suggested to construct a rail-way from the mountains, through the vale which the Bray river waters to the river’s mouth, and there erect a pier, where the mountain granite could be exported, for the purposes of building in other places; but this suggestion appears to have been rejected without any examination. 

  Following the coast to Bray Head, a work of pleasing difficulty is presented, the ascent to its summit, an elevation of 807 feet above low water; this can be accomplished by a little perseverance, but it is quite impossible to climb round the precipitous cliffs which hang over the see. In this dark and inaccessible brow, the curlew, cormorants, and gulls build their nests, and on the approach of a storm, or being disturbed by any unusual noise, they endeavour to rival the solemn rolling of‘ the waves by their loud and melancholy screams, while they darken the chasm, in whose front they have built their nests, by flying from rock to rock in wild and unmeaning confusion.

   Bray Head* is composed chiefly of quartz rock, divided into two great masses, the division between them being marked by a hollow in the middle of the hill; but the coast around the head-land consists of numerous successions of stratified rocks, which ascend part of the northern and eastern brows of the head. Upon the strand, on each side of this promontory, are found pebbles, white and almost pellucid, which strike fire but weakly, being imperfect crystals. Various coloured pebbles are also found all along the Wicklow coast, bearing a resemblance, according to Rutty, to Egyptian; these strike fire with steel, and cause no ebullition with acids ; they admit of cutting, and receive a high polish. 

* Perhaps it was so named from some fancied resemblance it bears to a neck, which is called Braighe, in Irish, or Bri, a hill – Harris.

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Description of the Scalp – 1822

From ‘Guide to the County of Wicklow’ by Rev. G.N. Wright
Published by Baldwin, Cradock and Joy, Paternoster Row (London) 1822







Two miles from Enniskerry, on the Dublin road, and in the county of Dublin, which commences at the bridge of that village, is the extraordinary chasm in the range of
Dublin mountains, called the Scalp. Here the opposite hills appear to have been rent asunder by some tremendous convulsive shock, and being composed of granite
strata, the internal structure, when exposed to view, presents the secret recesses of mature in an awful and appalling point of view. Enormous masses of granite, many
tons in weight, are tossed about in the most irregular manner, and so imperfect and unfinished was the effort of nature in creating this gulf, that the opposite sides of the
pass are distant only the breadth of a narrow road from each other; in some places immeasurable masses actually, interrupt the continued regularity of the limit of the road,
As road-makers in latter days appear so adverse to any thing like a consideration of the picturesque, so in this instance they have destroyed the effect produced in passing
through. this frightful chasm, by what they call an improvement; formerly the road passed in the exact point in which the opposite sides, if continued downward, might be supposed to meet, and so on each side rose those confused and chaotic masses of rock, apparently possessing so slight a dependence upon each other that you are uncertain of what moment their obruitive motion may commence again; but the short road lately made through part of-the defile runs along the side of one of the hills, amongst the rude masses themselves, so that the height of both sides is apparently much diminished, and the conquest here effected of art over nature lessens our idea of her wonderful works.

To the east of the Scalp, a lead mine has been opened some years since, by a company of persons in Dublin, and worked for some time with varying success. Here mica is found in great abundance with a sort of greyish white splintery quartz with mica flakes interwoven – an approximation to quartz rock of which Shankill peak, In the neighbouring district, is totally composed.

The Scalp - c1900

The Scalp – c1900

Beyond the mines of Shankill, or Ballycorus, on the declivity of the hill is an ancient castle, the external wall of which is still perfect, and used as a shepherd’s dwelling. In this edifice, called Puck’s Castle, the unhappy monarch James, slept the night after his defeat at Old Bridge, while his army bivouacked in front. Tradition states, that James being apprehensive of an ambush, in the woods of Windgate , took a boat at Killiney-bay, and coasted to the town of Wicklow, where he slept in a house now inhabited by Dr. Smith.*

The Dublin road is now one continued descent of eight miles, passing through a few villages of little consequence, Kilternan, Golden-ball, Steepaside +, Kilgobbin, where
there is an old castle, Sandyford, and Dundrum, three miles from Dublin, a place remarkable for the purity and wholesomeness of its atmosphere, and where invalids come
from town in crowds every morning, in the summer season, to drink goats whey **; Windy Harbour #, Milltown, upon the river Dodder, Cullenswood, and Ranelagh, which last place is in the suburbs of Dublin.

* This anecdote relative to King James rests an the authority of an
unpublished MS. in the possesion of a private individual. From
Wicklow, he must have proceeded tn Shelton abbey, in the vale of
Arklow, which was the last place he slept at in the county of Wicklow.

+sw Stepaside
**sw now Goatstown
#sw or Windy Arbour

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Civil BMD Index (Irishgenealogy/GRO)
Civil BMD Index (FamilySearch)
Church Records – Dublin, Kerry, Carlow, Cork (IrishGenealogy)
RC Parish Register Images (NLI)
Extracted Civil Births, Marriages & Deaths (FamilySearch)
Anglican Record Project (RCBL)
List of CofI Parish Records (RCBL)
FreeBMD (Eng/Wales)
FamilySearch (Various Transcripts and images)

1901/1911 Census of Ireland
National Archives (Tithes, Probate Calendar &c)
Griffith’s Valuation (AskAboutIreland)
Logainm Placename Database
OSI Historic Map Viewer
GeoHive Map Viewer
Townland Explorer
Maps of Ireland and Dublin City
RC Chapel & Parish Mapping
Civil Registration Distinct mapping
Civil Parish Maps (John Grenham)

Pay Websites
RC Baptisms (FMP)
RC Marriages (FMP)
Civil Marriage Index (FMP)
Civil Marriage Index – Eng/Wales (FMP)
GRO England/Wales
Scotland’s People
1939 Register (FMP)

FindMyPast & Ancestry  (Eng/Wales Census etc.)

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Searching Irish Civil BMD Records online

Searching Irish Civil BMD Records online

Historic Civil BMD records consist of two collections, Registers Books and Index books. The National Registers and Indexes for all of Ireland were kept by the General Register Office (GRO), in Dublin. The head office for the Republic of Ireland is now located in Roscommon (town), with Civil BMD Records for Northern Ireland held by the General Register Office – Northern Ireland (GRONI).

The registers contain the details of the births, marriages and deaths copied from returns made to the GRO head office from the regional registration offices. The index books were also compiled from these as a system built to help locate individual records in these register books.

Each type of record, i.e. births marriages and deaths, have a separate set of index books, one for each year, with one for each quarter after 1878. All three sets of Index books list the name of child, bride/groom or name of deceased in alphabetical order by surname and first name, followed by the registration district, volume and page. For marriages there is a double entry in the index, one from the bride and another for the groom. These should both appear in the same index book and section (i.e. Year or Year/Quarter), and have matching volume and page numbers.

1. Indexes

b) The FamilySearch transcripts were based on microfilms made of the GRO National Index books. This index is free to access at FamilySearch and the index details were transcribed and indexed by volunteers and also currently available on Ancestry and FindMyPast.  Each of these websites allows searches by first and surname with or without variations, and include date and registration district filters. All the sites allow for the use of wildcard searches.

Each site has it’s own pros and cons, some systems, e.g. the FamilySearch, appear to cope slightly better with name variations, both first and surnames, but does not cope as well with searches by county, particularly where the name is also used for the name of a registration district, e.g. Cork or Wexford. The Ancestry search only allows entry of a single year rather as an estimate rather than from-to dates, but includes a fuzzy algorithm and ranks results according to relevance.

The FindMyPast search is the only one of the three websites which allows selection of both county and/or registration district as a search filter, and copes well with districts across more than one county. The search also allows selection of a filter based on several registration districts, which can be particularly useful in area searches e.g. Dublin South/Rathdown/Naas. Both the Ancestry and FindMyPast systems have a marriage cross-match function, which show a lists of possible matching brides or grooms based on entries with the same index references.

The FamilySearch Index covers from the start of civil records up to 1958 for counties in the Republic of Ireland, and up to 1921 for counties in Northern Ireland.

c) The GRO ‘index’ system on the free IrishGenealogy website is based on transcripts carried out from the original National GRO Index Books. Recently the GRO started adding further details from the registers to the index system – e.g. date of birth for child & mother’s maiden surnames on births back to c1900, date of marriage and names of bride & groom on marriages back to the early 1880s. The index includes entries from the start of registration for births, marriages and deaths up to a 100/75/50 year cutoff  (1914 for births, 1940 for marriages and 1964 for deaths) and the search system covers copes with some name variation and also wildcards, and allows selection of a single registration district as filter.

The GRO / IrishGenealogy website also includes register images for all birth, i.e. 1964 to 1915, marriages from 1882 to 1940, and deaths from 1891 to 1964 (further records will be added). Many of these records on the use a new ‘Group Registration ID’ as a unique reference in place of the original year, volume and page references on the GRO Index .

The GRO/IrishGenealogy website includes records for counties now in Northern Ireland, up to the end of 1921, or the cut-off which ever applies first.

2. Civil Register Extracts of Births, Marriages & Deaths, formerly included as part of the old IGI system, include extracted partial details for civil record in many areas covering from the start of civil records (1845/1864) up to about 1880. The include some of the key details from the registers, e.g. on birth transcripts the name of the child, date of birth, names of parents, for marriages name of bride and groom, date of marriage, names of fathers. These extracts often include part of the index references, e.g page and/or volume numbers (**). Some of these partial extracted records also appear on Ancestry.

3. Transcripts

a) RootsIreland / Irish Family History Foundation subscription website includes transcripts, but not images, for civil Birth Marriage and Death records for some districts in a number of counties – based on their source list currently include Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Derry/Londonderry, Donegal, Down, Galway (East), Kilkenny, Leitrim, Limerick, Mayo, Monaghan, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Waterford and Westmeath.

Check the various sources pages for details of which record types and districts are covered. Most include records up to about 1900, some districts up to the 1920s. (The Districts shown in some cases are Registration Sub-Districts, which are part of the overall
Superintendent Registrar’s Districts used on the GRO Index.)

b) EmeraldAncestors subscription website includes transcripts of civil records for counties in Northern Ireland, including some up to the 1920s.

c) Ulster History Foundation / AncestryIreland subscription website includes transcripts or civil records for counties Antrim and Down up to 1900.

d) GRONI / NIDirect includes both transcripts and images of civil Birth Marriage and Death records for Northern Ireland from the beginning of registration with a 100/75/50 year BMD cutoff. Purchase of Credits is required to view transcripts or images, but searches, which show enhanced index information, do not use up credits.

Offline – Research Certs can be ordered from the GRO using the references from the various index details (FamilySearch/Ancestry/FindMyPast or GRO Index). These cost €4, and cover all of Ireland up to 1921 and the Republic of Ireland thereafter. Official certs for legal purposes cost extra and are usually transcripts of the original record rather than copies of the register.

* copies of regional registers may also be available to search in some sub-districts, these do not use the same National Indexing system.

** Some of the captions are incorrect in these extracts, e.g. some dates of birth are shown as Christening date, which is a detail not included on birth records, the should read ‘date of birth’ and others have a field labelled ‘father’s birth place’, which is also not recorded and should read either child’s place of birth or “father’s current place of residence”. Place names shown in these extracts can be a townland, but often the name of a registration district, sub district, or county, and in some case the names of the street where the registration office was located – e.g. High Street, Dublin.


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Street Listings in Thom’s Dublin Directories

The Street listings included in Thom’s Dublin Directory can provide interesting details about the area your ancestors lived, for example neighbours, the types of businesses present on the same street, prominent  buildings and Churches nearby, and may help narrow down exactly which part of a street a particular family or business was located.

It should be noted that not all streets are included in these listings, e.g. minor lanes and some small side streets are not included, but some character of an area can still be established from details of nearby streets.

Street numbers were in use in the City for most streets during the 1800s, and in many cases the sequences used on each remained much the same up to modern times. Some streets were renumbered, especially during major redevelopment, and a number of streets were renamed, many in the early years of the 20th Century.

The 1848 Street listing for York Street is included as an example below.

Click to view full sized image

Listing for York St. – Thom’s 1848.
Header highlighted in Red, junctions in Green.

The heading section of each Street listed includes key details – see extract below of the details for York Street.

york_street_hdg_1848The street is shown as running ‘From Aungier Street to Stephen’s Green W.‘, and this indicates the direction in which the numbers initially run. In this case, as in many other streets, the numbers run down one side of the street with number 1 to 32, to the end at  Stephen’s Green West and continue the sequence from 33 to 58 returning back to Aungier Street on the other side. The heading also shows that all of the street is in St. Peter’s Civil parish, and numbers 1 to 16 and 46 to 58 in Castle Electoral Ward, and numbers 17 to 45 in St. Stephen’s Ward. The street is covered by B. Police Division.

The street is shown on maps of the time (see below) and based on the listing we can say that the initial numbers ran west to east. There are several clues to help determine which side the street each set of numbers were located, the first is using junctions of the main side streets, highlighted in green in the street listing above. In this case the junctions listed on the first side are shown as French St. between numbers 16 & 17, and Proud’s Lane between 31 & 32, and Mercer Street between number 45 and 46 on the other.


The city maps do not always label smaller streets, but in this instance the Thom’s 1848 Dublin City map includes French Street to the south and Mercer Street to the north in addition to Stephen’s Green and Aungier Street at each end of York Street, so numbers 1 to 32 ran along the south side of the street going west to east, and 33 to 58 ran east west along the north side.

Layout of the Street Numbers for York Street

Layout of the Street Numbers for York Street

Using the example of the baptism of Samuel Lenox Logan from the IrishGenealogy website  baptised in St. Peter’s Church of Ireland Parish on the 21st February 1846, with his parents address recorded as 48 York Street, we can show the family lived on the north side of York Street, and two buildings to the west of the junction with Mercer Street.

The later 1885 Thom’s Map (see extract below) shows Mercer St. Upper instead of French street, and the street listing for the same year shows Mercer Street Lower (the section nearer the city centre) as running from Stephen’s Street to York Street. Mercer Street Upper is shown as running from York Street to Cuffe Street, so the street previously shown as French Street.

Where Upper/Lower streets have Street Listings the header details for these can be used to verify where each is located – see details for Mercer Street Upper & Lower below.

The street listings include many prominent buildings which may also be shown on maps, and these can also help determine which side of the street each section of numbers are used. For example the map above shows the Gaiety Theatre on the north side of King Street South, and the street listing for that year includes the Theatre at numbers 48 & 49 (highlighted in red in extract below), showing that numbers 30 to 34, and 35 to 56 are on the north side of the street.

The listing for King Street South also shows a shared corner building – with Mrs. Nugent at no. 1 King Street South also having a Stephen’s Green West address, which is also included as no. 141 in Stephen’s Green West street listing.

In the case where a street name includes a North or South, e.g. King Street, this usually indicates that there is more than one street of that name in the city, one either side of the River Liffey.

Additional historic maps of the city are available on the OSI mapviewer (c1840, c1900 & Modern) and GeoHive (c1840, c1900, c1930 & Modern), in addition to the maps on this website.

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