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After traveling around the United Kingdom, we took a ferry from Holyhead in Wales to Dublin, Ireland. We were able to put our car on the ferry and then spend the three and a bit hours enjoying the ride. It was a fairly smooth trip and there was a movie room with children’s movies. It was a fantastic way to be introduced to Ireland as you could slowly start to see it appear. By the time we had docked, the clouds had drifted away and you had bright blue skies. Despite being July, the weather in Ireland tended to be quite cool and we often needed our coats or jackets. It also rained quite a bit. The difference was that we often found the rain not to last so long. It really would come, drench you, and then those lovely blue skies would reappear.
Bray is a beachside town just south of Dublin with a rocky shoreline. There is a wide promenade along the beach that is about a mile long. There is a coffee shop right on the promenade and we enjoyed their coffee, sandwiches, and fantastic views. The kids and I enjoy rocky beaches, so we spent a fair bit of time on this one. In fact, we would have stayed longer except for a sudden rolling rainshower that had us running back to our car.
Bray Promenade & Cliff Walk
Bray Promenade makes for a great way to enjoy the lovely shoreline, but if you want great views you might want to continue your walk and go to the top of Bray Head (about 30-40 minutes). The last bit of the path is very rocky and steep, so make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a jacket as it can get quite windy. Not suitable for prams or very young children.
If you are really love walking trails though you can do the Bray to Greystones cliff walk (2.5 hours). The cliff walk to Greystones was created for railway workers who were building the railway lower down on the cliffside. The walk is 7 km, so plan ahead and so that you know- the path is not pram friendly. However, Greystones is a popular place with plenty of cafes and there is a train that can bring you back to Bray in 9 minutes.
Both the walks are more suited to older children. However, if you really want to see the amazing cliffside views and you have young children, then take a round trip on the DART train from Bray to Greystones and enjoy the views on your way to lunch or coffee in Greystones.
Powerscourt House and Gardens are about 15 minutes outside of Bray. The gardens here are the most amazing I have ever seen. In fact, they were voted by National Geographic as being #3 in the World’s top 10 gardens. So, to say it is beautiful is an understatement. If you visit Ireland, you must put this amazing place on your itinerary. The photos speak for themselves. While we were there, the girls and I saw a nest of baby birds in a stone crevice near the lake. It was so sweet to see them chirping that it really made their day.
Bit of History
Powerscourt House was once a grand palace owned by the Viscounts of Powerscourt in the 1960’s it was bought by the Slazenger family. However, there is a strong connection between the families as the current Viscount’s mother was a Slazenger. This makes the current owners of Powerscourt House and the Viscount cousins.
In the 1970’s the Slazenger’s renovated the home; unfortunately, in 1974 during a press conference a massive fire gutted the house. While the house is now repaired, it is not your typical stately home. There are a couple of rooms that have been beautifully renovated; however, the rest of the upper floors are administrative.
The ground floor is made up of a cafe, Tara’s Palace, and an amazing gift shop. But, you certainly don’t come here for the inside of the house. The gardens are just amazing and I feel that even if you could see the house, that the priority would always be the gardens.
While the gardens are a must, Tara’s Palace is a well thought out toy museum and it has a large display of antique toys and doll houses.
If you are interested in seeing Ireland’s highest waterfall, you are at the right place. However, you are not able to access the waterfall from the main gardens. You will have to drive there, but there is a food kiosk and playground at the site. It’s also a nice place for a picnic.
While we stayed in Bray on our visit, Powerscourt House is only a 30-40 minute drive from Dublin, so do make the effort to visit.
Other Activities in and around Bray
National Sea Life Aquarium
A small aquarium on the seashore. Aquariums are always popular with kids and the great thing is that this one only takes about an hour or so. Tickets are cheaper online though and you can exit and re-enter the aquarium for the day of your visit.
Killruddery House and Garden
This lovely home and garden is just outside of Bray. They are closed in the winter months (Jan until the 31 March). However, they host a variety of events throughout the year and also have specialised children tours.
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