Bray Head’s Urban Nature

Kilfeather’s Dublin: A Cultural History argues that the Wicklow mountains and the Dublin bay are some of the natural features that have helped shaped the story of the city of Dublin (19). With the passage of time, nature’s landscape has slowly been decreasing, but there are still a few natural landscapes left in Ireland. To the south of Dublin Bay we find the steep cliffs of Bray Head. According to Kilfeather, Bray Head once signaled a natural boundary between the city and nature; nevertheless, this boundary has slowly disappeared because of the city’s expanding population (19). When I read this excerpt, I imagined a decaying landscape surrounded by dying grass and patches of dirt. I pictured an environment that was slowly being engulfed by houses, buildings, commercial areas, and smog. But Bray Head has managed to keep some of its natural landscape, resisting for as long as it can the growing urbanism of Ireland.

A Whole New World

Top of Bray Head, Overlooking Town by Eric Walker

The image above gives us a small taste of what it is like to view the world from the top of Bray Head. Bray Head is a hill located in northern County Wicklow between the towns of Bray and Greystones. It forms part of the Wicklow mountains and the top of the cliff gives us a breathtaking view of the sea and the town of Bray. This view emphasizes the ever expanding urban landscape that is slowly reducing the natural environment. Although the hill is surrounded by buildings, it has managed to keep some of nature’s features. The ground is covered with grass, small flowers, and many rocks and on the way up, you encounter multiple trees and bushes. Apart from the breathtaking view, another thing that stands out is the cross that is placed at the top of the cliff. This concrete cross was placed in 1950 during the holy year and hundreds of people climb to the top every Good Friday. This symbol is a reflection of the Ireland’s devotion to religion (Kilfeather 20).

It Comes Alive at Night

These two night time pictures show us Bray Head from a different angle. The picture to the left shows us Bray Head and the different buildings that surround the bottom of the hill. While the picture to the right show us the surrounding sea and an open grass area. What stood out to me was the division between the open grass and the urban town. If we look carefully at the pictures, we notice that the buildings all stop at the same distance and the ground after the buildings changes from concrete to grass. This detail reminds me of Kilfeather’s argument of the invisible boundary that separates nature from the urban world. To me the open grassy area is a representation of the natural landscape that once stood. This open space appears to mimic the peaceful nature found at the top of Bray Head. Without a doubt, Bray Head is a beautiful site that possesses a one of kind urban nature.

A complete and beautiful tour of Bray Head by SkycamIreland!

If you want to see more of Bray Head, check out this video!


  1. Thank you for such an informative and interesting article, Samantha! The pictures that you chose were also beautiful!
    I especially loved how you noticed the boundary between the urban town and open nature. Do you think that this architectural distinction was intentional by the creators of the space, or do you think that it was an accident? I feel that perhaps this was purposeful with an intention of respect: respect towards the sea and nature without imposing an urban presence upon it. It almost seems to me that the urban town has taken a polite neighborly existence next to the sea– instead of taking advantage of the land and its beauty, it gives nature enough space to still flourish and remain worthy of appreciation.

    1. Thank you for your comment Kaitlyn and great question! I 100% agree with your interpretation. I think this distinction was intentional and with the purpose of respecting the few beautiful landscapes left in Ireland. It illustrates the city’s desire to coexist with nature to conserve the rich history that is found within these landscapes.

  2. Hi Samantha!
    I love how you connected Bray Head with the amorphousness and every changing nature of the boundary between nature and the city. It’s certainly interesting to see how these boundaries and how we have conceptualized them have developed over time, and how we today value these open spaces incorporated in and adjacent to urban spaces.

    1. Thank you for your comment Alexa! I agree that as urbanism grows we come to appreciate the contrasting nature that is sometimes incorporated into these urban places.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *