Famous Residents of Bray
Bray was once home to several famous names, from well known writers, renowned artists to former presidents. These residents spent the whole or parts of their lives in Bray, and Bray often held a special place in their hearts. Even today Bray is the birthplace and home to the next generation stars, breeding the likes of Olympians, musicians and actors.
Here’s a quick summary…..
- Mary Coughlan currently resides in the town
- Finn Bálor, professional wrestler with WWE was born and trains in the town
- Hozier, a singer/songwriter is from Bray
- Eddie Jordan, former racing driver and Jordan Grand Prix founder
- Ed Joyce, professional cricketer
- Maria Doyle Kennedy, an Irish singer and actress who resided in the town as a child
- Dara Ó Briain, comedian and UK television host was born in the town
- Sinead O’Connor, singer currently resides in the town
- Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, fifth President of Ireland was born in the town
- Fionn Regan, Irish musician
- Katie Taylor, world and European Olympic boxing champion
- Laura Whitmore, former MTV television presenter was born in the town
James Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941)
James Joyce is one of Brays most famous residents. He lived in Martello Terrace No. 1 during his early years from 1887-1889. Joyce had fond memories of Bray and mentions his family home in his work, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses. James Joyce is celebrated each year on June 16th during the Bloomsday Festival.
Sheridan Le Fanu (28 August 1814 – 7 February 1873)
Sheridan Le Fanu was a leading Irish writer of gothic horror and mystery novels. His best known works include Uncle Silas, In a Glass Darkly and Carmilla. The latter was to greatly influence Bram Stocker when he wrote his horror masterpiece Dracula.
Many of the Le Fanu family lived around Bray in the mid 1800s. Sheridan grew sick while writing Uncle Silas and came to Bray to recuperate. He stayed down the seafront in a house called Innisfree.
Lennox Robinson (4 October 1886 – 15 October 1958)
Lennox Robinson was an Irish Dramatist and poet. His most popular play was The Whiteheaded Boy (1916). Other plays included Crabbed Youth and Age, The Far Off Hills. He lived Innisfree, the same house that Sheridan Le Fanu lived in, though at different times.
Mr. and Mrs. Wilde
Sir William and Lady Jane Wilde, the parents of Oscar Wilde, built properties on Esplanade Terrace in 1863, one of which is now the Strand Hotel. Oscar inherited these after his father died. When Oscar sold them in 1878 he ended up in Bray Court House (now the Design Centre) over some confusion. The estate agent accepted offers from two bidders, and the bidder later declared unsuccessful sued. Oscar won the case but was left with the court expenses.
Thomas Langlois Lefroy(1776-1869)
Thomas Lefroy was an Irish Politician and Judge. He lived in his family estate in Newcourt. The estate no longer remains and the area is now modern housing. Lefroy is most notable for his relationship with novelist Jane Austen. He is thought to be the model for Mr. Darcy in the novel Pride and Prejudice, though this is debated. In the 2003 biography by Jon Spence, he depicts Austen and Lefroy’s relationship. A film version of the book was made, called Becoming Jane, and stars Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy as the leads. The film was partly filmed in Bray in Ardmore Studios and Killruddery Estate.
Richard Power (1928 – 1970)
Richard Power was an Irish writer. His works include The Hungry Grass and The Land of Youth. He lived in a house called Ravenna on Convent Avenue.
Philip Rooney (1907- 1966)
Philip Rooney was an Irish writer; his works include North Road, The Long Day and his best known work Captain Boycott. The latter was made into a successful film starring Stewart Granger and Cecil Parker in the title roles. He lived in No. 27 Meath Road.
Joshua Pim (20 May 1869- 15 April 1942)
Joshua Pim was a Bray born medical doctor and a former World no. 1 Irish amateur tennis player. He won the men’s single title two years in a row at Wimbledon in 1893 and 1894. He was born and raised in 1&2 Millward Terrace on the Meath Road
Paul Henry (11 April 1877 – 24 August 1958)
Paul Henry was a Belfast born painted, best known for his landscape paintings that captured the rugged beauty of the West of Ireland. He lived in many houses around Bray but most notably in No. 1 Sidmonton Square. He came to live in Bray in 1945 when he lost his sight; and he lived there till he died in 1953.
Cearbhall O’ Dalaigh (12 February 1911 – 21 March 1978)
Cearbhall O’ Dalaigh was born in Bray and was the fifth president of Ireland, from 1974 to 1976, when he resigned after a clash with the government. He then went on to have a notable legal career and served as the Chief Justice of Ireland. He lived in No. 85 Main Street, which is now The Jasmine House Restaurant.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the mastermind behind the great sleuth, lived for a short while in Bray in Rahan House on the Killarney Road. It was during this point in his life he became fascinated by spiritualism, and life after death. During his time in Bray he worked on gathering photographic evidence for his theory of psychic phenomenon. He also taught for a while in St Gerards and wrote a book called The Coming of the Fairies (1922), which was a flop.
Garret Fitzgerald (9 February 1926 – 19 May 2011)
Garret Fitzgerald grew up in Bray in Fairy Hill House on the Killarney Road. The house is now demolished, but lives on in the name of the estate built in its place. He had a very politically active and extremely sociable family, and his home was often full of distinguished guests including W.B Yeats, Jacques Maritain and T.S. Eliot. Garret Fitzgerald went on to be an Irish politician who was twice Taoiseach.
James Plunkett Kelly (21 May 1920 – 28 May 2003)
James Plunkett Kelly was an Irish writer. His works include Strumpet City and Farewell Companions. Strumpet City was turned into a successful miniseries by RTE, starring David Kelly, Cyril Cusack and Peter O’ Toole. He lived in No. 4 Herbert Road.
Sir Henry Hamilton Harty (4 December 1879 – 19 February 1941)
Sir Hamilton Harty was an Irish composer, pianist and organist. For six years he was the organist in ChristChurch. While he held that position he lived at ‘Clara’ on the Herbert Road. While working in Bray he was composing and winning prizes for his chamber works. His works include Comedy Overture in 1907 and Irish Symphony in 1910.
Cyril Cusack (26 November 1910 – 7 October 1993)
Cyril Cusack was an Irish actor, and had a long career spanning 70 years. He starred in numerous film and television productions. Some of his films include ‘My Left Foot’, ‘Fahrenheit 451’ and ‘1984’ and the successful TV series ‘StrumpetCity’ written by his fellow Bray resident James Plunkett. He lived for a time in No. 1 Herbert Terrace.
William Larminie (1 August 1849 – 19 January 1900)
William Larminie was a Mayo born poet and folklorist. When he retired from his position in the British India Office in 1887 he settled in Bray and devoted himself to writing. His works include West Irish Folk Tales and Romances, a collection of stories which he collected from local people in Donegal, Mayo and Galway. He also published two volumes of poetry, Glanlua and Other Poem’s (1889), and Fand and Other Poems (1890). He lived in Prince of Wales Terrace No. 2.
Captain Albert Bestic (26 August 1890- 20 December 1962)
Captain Albert Bestic was the third officer on the ‘Lusitania’ and author of Kicking Canvas. He lived in No. 11 Prince of William Terrace.
Desmond Fitzgerald (13 February 1888 – 9 April 1947)
Desmond Fitzgerald was an Irish revolutionary poet and politician. In 1914 he joined the Irish Volunteers. After being arrested for making a political speech in 1915 in Kerry, he was told to leave the area and was also forbidden by the British authorities to live within Dublin. He moved to Bray, and there he recruited volunteers. They trained the WicklowMountains and on Sunday afternoons he took them to the PeoplesPark for drill practice. He used his house in Bray to hold meetings in favour of Home Rule. When Desmond, breaking his restrictions, ventured into Dublin by bicycle he was arrested and his trial was heard in Bray Courthouse. He was found Guilty and sentenced to Mountjoy. He was released in time to join the 1916 rising at the GPO, he escaped and making his way back to Bray he was arrested and sentenced to twenty years in prison.
Count Louis Le Warner Harmon (November 1, 1866 – October 8, 1936)
Count Louis Le Warner Harmon also known as ‘Cheiro’ was one of Ireland’s greatest clairvoyants and became one of the world best known palmists. The Bray born occultist acquired his talents as a teenager in India. Some of his famous clients included Thomas Edison, William Gladstone, Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde. He wrote many books and predicated the sinking of the Titanic. He lived out his days in Hollywood, where his ghost is said to still haunt the house in which he died!
Charles Barrington (1834 – 1901)
Charles Barrington was a Bray man from Fassaroe whose claim to fame was being the first man to successfully climb the Eiger Mountain. On August 11th 1858, he led a team, which included his two mountain guides Christain Almer and Peter Bohren and the reached the summit via the west flank. On the 150th anniversary in 2008 two memorial plaques were erected in Grindlewald and Kleine Scheidegg in Switzerland. The plaques were commissioned by the Barrington family and Bray Town Council and feature a picture of Charles along with details of his achievement.
Bertie Messitt (28 September 1930 – 18 February 2012)
Bertie Messitt grew up in Bray and was an Irish long distance runner who competed in the 1960 Olympics in Rome. One of his biggest years was in 1958 when he broke a total of nine Irish records. As a supporter of sports for young people, he founded the Shankill Youth Club after he retired in 1966. He was also a passionate and lifelong supporter of Bray Wanderers.
Present – Current and Former Residents
Currently Living in Bray:
Sinead O’ Connor (born 8th December 1966)
Sinead O’ Connor is an Irish singer-songwriter, who rose to fame in the 1980s with her debut album and claimed worldwide success with her version of “Nothing Compares 2 U”. She has released nine albums and has collaborated with many other stars. She is often known for her controversial views on woman’s right and organised religion. O’ Connor is currently living in Bray.
Katie Taylor (born 2 June 1986)
Katie Taylor is an Olympic boxing champion. She grew up in Bray and started boxing at 12, training in the Bray Boxing Club, down by the harbour, with her father as a coach. She is currently the Irish, European, World and Olympic Champion in the 60kg division. In the 2012 Olympics she won gold in the lightweight division.
Mary Coughlan (born 5 May 1956)
Mary Coughlan is a Galway born jazz and folk singer and has released numerous albums. She currently lives in Bray.
Anne Enright (born 11 October 1962)
Anne Enright is an Irish author who has published essays, short stories, non-fiction and four novels. For her 2007 novel The Gathering she won the Booker prize and in 2008 won Irish Novel of the Year. She currently lives in Bray.
O.R. Melling is an Irish fantasy writer. Her novels are mostly written around Irish and Celtic folklore and are aimed at young adults. Some of her novels include The Chronicles of Faerie, The Singing Stone and The Druid’s Tune. She was born in Bray and was brought up in Toronto. She has now returned to Bray, where she currently lives.
Emma Hannigan is an Irish author who has published several successful novels including Designer Genes, Miss Conceived and The Pink Ladies Club. She has also written a memoir Talk to the Headscarf which is about her long struggle with cancer.
Grew up in Bray:
Dara Ó Briain (born 4 February 1972)
Dara Ó Briain is a popular Irish comedian and TV presenter who grew up in Bray. He has performed numerous comedy tours throughout Ireland and the UK. Some of the topical panel shows he’s hosted include The Panel and Mock the Week.
Eddie Jordan (born 30 March 1948)
Eddie Jordan is a former racer and founder and owner of the Jordan Grand Prix, a formula one racing team. He is currently the lead analyst for F1 coverage on the BBC. He grew up in Bray.
Paul Mc Naughton (born 18 Novemebr 1952)
Paul Mc Naughton was an Irish rugby, soccer and GAA player during the 1970s and 1980s, but is best known for rugby. In 2008 he was appointed manager of the Irish Rugby Team. He grew up in Bray and played soccer for Bray Wanderers A.F.C. at one point.
Fionn Regan (born 1981)
Fionn Regan is an Irish singer song writer and folk musician. He achieved success with his 2006 debut album The End of History. He had now released four studio albums and has received nominations for the Choice Music Prize in Ireland, The Mercury Prize in the UK and the Shortlist Music Prize in the US.
Laura Whitmore (born 4 May 1985)
Laura Whitmore is an Irish TV presenter who grew up in Bray. In 2008 she won a campaign called Pick Me MTV, and became the face of MTV News in MTV Europe. She has also presented the show I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here, and in 2009 launched a self branded clothing range within A Wear.
Text by Ann Robinson