Howth in the backround
I came across this interesting little ruin during some online research on the area. I had previously visited Bray Head to see the old ruin of Raheen a cluig Church (see earlier post here ) which is located at the start of the Bray to Greystones cliff walk. The walk which runs approx. 7km is a must to do as the panoramic sea and cliff views are not to be missed. Along this route you will find the ruin of Lord Meath’s Lodge.
The Lodge’s history is strongly associated with the construction of the rail line South from Bray by the Dublin Wicklow & Wexford Railway Co. which began in 1850 and opened in 1856. Originally an inland route was planned across the Glen of the Downs but an objection from Lord Meath of Kilruddery estate scuppered plans because he declared that the railway would divide his estate in two. So the difficult Bray Head section was the only alternative. It involved several bridges and tunnels which had to be bored through the rock and the great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel was in involved in this. The cliff path was constructed during construction to allow equipment and construction workers to be facilitated. After the railway opened the public were allowed to use the cliff path but again Kilruddery estate intervened and Lord Meath the 11th Earl William Brabazon (1803-1887) deemed that the path crossed the estate land and so a lodge was built as a toll house and a gate installed across the pathway to which a toll of one penny was charged to anybody wanting to continue on to Greystones. It was manned by an individual whose sole task was to collect the tolls. This levy was active Saturday to Thursday only as on Fridays the gate was locked so that the Brabazon family could use the cliff path for their own leisure activities.
For easy access we parked the car in the Raheen car park from where you can see the aforementioned church ruin just above it and we then took the path to the left that starts the cliff walk. There is another path to the right up through the woods that leads to the summit of Bray Head. This can be quite strenuous a climb at times. The Cliff walk is a lot easier and it gets narrower at intervals huddling to the cliffs which are netted to avoid subsidence. It only took about 10 – 15 minutes to reach the lodge ruins. Along the way you peer down on the parallel running railway and the rocky sea inlets. The lodge is nestled below a less rocky part of the cliff although there is a single huge rock outcrop just above it.
The lodge was designed as a two story dormer style building and was built using redbrick and locally sourced stone. It had an arched doorway of which only a remnant of the arch remains. Within, the overgrowth is a bit wild but you can still get an idea of the overall shape of the place and there is also the remains of a fireplace. There is a gable that is still standing which may have been originally the Southern end but some further building continues beyond it covering a set of stone steps that lead up to, well…nowhere! Originally they led to the Kilruddery estate but now they just end in scrub land. There are great views though from the top of the steps of the surrounds and the ruins below. When the tolling ceased here I have still to discover but the lodge has been in ruin a long time.
A short walk past the lodge some of the rail tunnels can be viewed. One the original tunnel mouths which led to a timber trestle bridge can still be seen but an accident which killed 2 people and injured 23 in 1867 put paid to the tunnel/bridge system and tunnels were later constructed further in on the cliffs. Also on this walk on an inlet just prior to the Lodge is a point called the Brandy Hole which contained a huge cave which was used by smugglers bringing contraband in from France and it is thought that a there was a tunnel leading from the cave inland. The cave was destroyed during the rail construction.
I found this a very interesting visit and the walk continues all the way to Greystones where rather than trailing the 7km walk back to Bray you can simply hop on the train for the short return journey. Bearing this in mind if you are planning on returning by rail it would be better if coming to Bray by car to park along the esplanade which is nearer the Bray rail station than the Raheen car park. It’s not a long walk to the cliffs.
To find the Raheen car park take the junction 5 exit of the M11 and at the small roundabout turn onto the R761 which leads directly onto the main street in Bray. Continue along the main street until you reach the old town hall building which now houses a McDonalds. Keep to the left of the hall and continue for approx. 850m until you see a left hand turn onto Putland Road (There is a large cross at the corner of the turn) Turn left onto Putland Road and continue until you reach the second of two crossroads and turn right here onto Edwards Road. Continue on through the next crossroads onto Raheen Park. Halfway down the road veers right but a lane way continues straight on. Take this lane way as it leads directly to the car park.