Bray (formerly Brí Chualann) is a town in north County Wicklow, Ireland. It is a busy urban centre and seaside resort, with a population of 31,872 making it the ninth largest urban area in Ireland as of the 2011 census. It is situated about south of Dublin on the east coast.
Bray is the location of some industry, is home for many who commute to Dublin by car or rail, is a shopping town for the surrounding area, and still attracts tourists, particularly from Dublin at weekends. The town straddles the Dublin-Wicklow border, with a portion of the northern suburbs situated in County Dublin. Bray is the location of Ireland's only dedicated film studios, Ardmore Studios.
In medieval times, Bray was on the border of the coastal district, governed directly by the English crown from Dublin Castle, known as the Pale. Inland, the countryside was under the control of Gaelic Chieftains, such as the O'Toole and O'Byrne clans. Bray features on the 1598 map "A Modern Depiction of Ireland, One of the British Isles" by Abraham Ortelius as "Brey". (It is worth noting the "O Byrne" name appearing prominently on the map). In August or September 1649 Oliver Cromwell is believed to have stayed in Bray on his way to Wexford from Dublin. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Bray was still a small fishing village, but during the latter part of the 18th century, the Dublin middle classes began to move to Bray to escape city life, while still being relatively close to the city. The Earl of Meath purchased the Kilruddery estate in Bray in 1627 with the establishment of the Earl title, the heir apparent is the present holder's only son, Anthony Jacques Brabazon, Lord Ardee (born 1977).
The Dublin and Kingstown Railway, the first in Ireland, opened in 1834 and was extended as far as Bray in 1854. With the railway, the town grew to become the largest Irish seaside resort. Five years after the building of the railway, Turkish baths were also built in Bray in an extravagant Moorish style at a cost of £10,000; these met an end after a turbulent century of business when the demolition squad arrived in 1980. The outbreak of World War II put the industry 'on hold' for its duration. However, during the 1950s tourists from Wales, England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland returned to Bray in great numbers to escape the austerity of post-war rationing. The town's career as a resort declined from the 1960s onwards when foreign travel became an option for large numbers of people.
Thousands of people flocked to the seafront to see Olympic boxing champion Katie Taylor, the town's most famous Sportsperson, return home from London in August 2012.