The guide book description of Bray as “a small fishing village before the coming of the railway,” is a bit misleading. There was fishing in Bray for sure, both inland and offshore, but there was no harbour until the end of the century. What sea traffic there was used a small dock south of the mouth of the Dargle river, occupying what is now the roadway between Martello Terrace and the Harbour Bar. This traditional pub was established in 1831 and is a lively spot, full of music and good cheer. Meanwhile, the harbour itself is home to a large flock of swans and is used mostly by small pleasure craft.
In this acrylic, we stand on the south wall of the harbour, with the lights of the seafront beckoning off to the left. There was once a lighthouse at the end of this pier, but that was swept into the sea in a storm long ago. Now, we are set in darkness, but for the glow of the sunset over the Wicklow Mountains, reflected in the swollen high tide at our feet. Before us is a scattering of harbour lights around the jetty but the Harbour Bar is obscured from us by the dark hulk of intervening buildings centre frame.
But I know it’s there, waiting while I linger a moment, whistling the Bray Harbour Blues.