A new heritage centre in the old town hall will allow the seaside town of Bray to tell its own history.

The town of Bray in County Wicklow known for its promenade, sea air and summer holidays has been in existence for longer than many visitors may be aware.The story of the town will be told from a new heritage centre based in the old town hall on Main Street.  

The Bray Heritage Centre is a project that the Cualann Historical Society have been working on for some years now, and their labour of love will be unveiled to the public during this year’s Bray festival.  

Dating from 1882 the town hall was built by Reginald Brabazon, son of the Earl of Meath, and is an appropriate home for the historical society’s exhibition. Built in a Tudor Revival style, it was designed by the architects Thomas Newenham Deane & Son. The ornamental drinking trough at the front of the building, complete with its decorative sculpture of a Wyvern from the Brabazon family coat of arms also dates from that time.  

The centre will be staffed voluntarily by members of the historical society, who plan to open it daily during the summer months. Items such as photographs from the Lawrence Collection, Bray’s sporting history, and social and commercial history in the form of old shop signs and memorabilia.  

There will also be exhibition on the coming of the railway in 1854, which changed the course of the town’s history, and William Dargan, the man behind Bray’s redevelopment as the most fashionable seaside town in Ireland. Thanks to him its status as a town and a destination grew tremendously, as Arthur Flynn of the Cualann Historical Society says,  

It became the Brighton of Ireland, and very sophisticated...the place to live for the aristocrats and the writers.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 8 July 1985. The reporter is Mary Butler.