Bray, County Wicklow - Irish Pictures (1888)

From Irish Pictures Drawn with Pen and Pencil (1888) by Richard Lovett

Chapter II: The Garden of Ireland … continued

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A still more fashionable summer resort is Bray. This place is even younger than Kingstown, having been quite unknown until comparatively recent times. Fifty years ago it was occupied by a few fishermen's huts; now it is crowded with enormous hotels, fine private residences, and all the signs of a considerable resident population. Fifty years ago the shore was a lonely beach; now it is a magnificent esplanade, extending along the water's edge, backed by spacious villas and supplied with baths, pleasure-gardens, and all the devices calculated to attract and detain those who like to combine the comforts of a big town with the advantages of sea-air and sea-bathing.

Rising abruptly to the south, is the Bri or Bree, meaning 'headland,' whence comes its name. This has been tunnelled by the railway, and so laid out that the walk around the face of the promontory affords a varied series of delightful views. In the height of the season Bray is very lively, and all those phases of life which have been developed by the modern fondness for fashionable sea-side summer life can here be studied by means of numerous examples.

But Bray is only at the gate of the beauties of Wicklow; and within certain limits the further afield one travels the richer is the reward, if the traveller be a lover of nature, and in sympathy with what has been most worthy in the past. Much that is very pretty in the immediate neighbourhood of Bray is somewhat vulgarized by the nearness of that centre of fashionable idleness. It is when the traveller gets twenty or thirty miles away that he enters into the full enjoyment of a really lovely region, where the tired worker, the overtaxed, the student, the man or woman brought below physical par by stress and strain of life, or by the partial breakdown of bodily and nervous power, may regain elasticity for the mind, tone for the nervous system, and restoration of bodily vigour. Few could spend their holidays in visiting Sugar-loaf Mountain, Glendalough, the Vale of Ovoca, Glenmalure, and a dozen other beautiful adjacent districts without being the better physically and mentally, and without increasing their love for natural beauty.

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