Once the holiday destination for the gentry of Ireland, the popularity of Bray as a tourist destination is declining.
According to GN Wright in his 1835 ‘Guide to the County of Wicklow’ Bray was a summer resort of wealth, fashion and taste, ideal for bathing with a combination of sea and mountain air.
In 1853 William Dargan brought the railroad to Bray transforming it from a small seaside village of Bray into the principal holiday destination of Ireland. The resort became known as the ‘Brighton of Ireland’, attracting thousands of tourists.
Visitors are no longer gentry as in Wrights day. Many of them are women from the north of Ireland or school groups from Britain.
Bray resident Diarmuid Breathnach says there can be as many as 20,000 visitors crammed onto the beach in Bray. Many people criticise Bray saying it has a lot of vandalism, but he believes a lot of Bray's social problems come from Dublin, as Bray is situated right beside the capital city. He says Bray tourism contributes significantly to the Irish economy.
Dawson’s Amusements arcade on Bray seafront has seen a decline in visitors to the area.
Years back we used to have wonderful times here and crowds of people, but I suppose the continental tours and cheap holidays abroad have taken a great deal of people away from us.
Another woman adds,
I would definitely say it’s going downhill and the people of Bray can blame themselves for Bray going down.
There is not enough for youngsters to do in the area and for older people, there is only entertainment is the pub or dancing. However but the dance halls are too small for the huge numbers of visitors. To keep visitors coming, facilities in Bray need to be improved so it can compete with other areas that are making concerted efforts to attract tourists.
The bilingual current affairs series ‘Féach’ reported on national and international events and was broadcast from 1967 to 1984. ‘Féach’ aired every Sunday evening and featured reports in both Irish and English. The Irish word ‘Féach’ meaning ‘Look’ gives an indication of what the programme was about as editor John Ross stated "It will try to show, from a fresh viewpoint, what is happening at home and abroad each week". (RTÉ Guide, 14 July 1967, p.17) The show was originally anchored by Andy O’Mahony with reporting assistance from Seán Duignan and Mícheál Ó Briain.
This episode of ‘Féach’ was broadcast on 6 August 1968.