Bray Station Mosaics
The Bray Daly station is a former full-service rail station that is now the next-to-the-last sourthern stop for the Dublin Area Rapid Transit system, an electric mostly-above-ground railway that serves nearly half of Ireland's east coast. Like several of the other D.A.R.T. stations, the Bray station shows an unashamed mix of Victorian and modern construction, which intrigues the rail-fan in me. But Bray goes one step farther with a charming, if underfunded, tribute to Irish rail service, especially rail service to Bray.
Two decades ago, artists were commissioned to paint a series of murals to celebrate over a century and a half of railroad history. When we visited Bray in May, 2012, the original paintings were deteriorating, but several of them had been converted over to mosaics, a very nice look that will certainly require less maintenance. A few of the original paintings were still viewable, a few had heavy damage, and a couple were replaced by line drawings showing where the tiles will go eventually, when those murals get sponsors. This ongoing effort is a very nice way to tie the present to the past, if you ask me.
The following table is an attempt to show the mural panels in sequence, although I have got some out of order, since I was shooting around people who were actually just there to wait for the train. Clicking on a photo will give you a high-resolution version.
Note: Since I first put up this article, I've been in touch with the artists involved. They tell me that they have three more panels ready to go, and they'll send me photos when the new ones are in. So check back every so often.
I had thought about sponsoring a panel, but the artists also told me that converting each mural to a mosaic costs 5000 pounds or more (about $7500), paying their assemblers minimum wage. (This is in line with other artwork I've seen sponsored in this way, so I don't contest their figures.) So if you want to sponsor a panel, let me know, and I'll get in you in touch with them.
The first panel shows an early Irish locomotive, the Hibernia (circa 1834). The next panel illustrates the opening ceremony for Bray station in 1852. From then on, each panel shows a scene from a successive decade. One of the panels is said to include a portrait of James Joyce, although I'll leave it up to you to decide which one.
The very last panel shows a stylized view of some of the classic Bray homes, with Bray Head in the background.
In addition, two historical characters are shown as though they were standing in doorways of the station, William Dargan, the "Father of the Railways," and Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
By the way, if you're ever in the area, Bray has some great little shops, several very nice eating places, and many remarkable views of the Irish Sea. It also has a remarkable McDonalds, that has been set up in the very old town hall with special attention to preserving the historical value of the landmark. They "roll up the streets" early on Sunday afternoon, though, so a weekday visit may be more rewarding. I found out after we returned to the states that, in addition to being a tourist and golf destination, and something of a bedroom community for wealthy people who work in Dublin, Bray also boasts a movie studio. Maybe if we ever get back, we can find out if the studio has tours or anything.
Additional information about this mosaic (along with some photos of panels that were "in-between" when I was there) is available at:
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