Carlisle Grounds is a purpose built football stadium known to locals informally and perhaps rather ironically as the “field of dreams”. With a 7,000 capacity which includes 3,185 seats its hard not to see why Bray Wanderers ground is the envy of football teams across Ireland.
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The Carlisle Grounds is the oldest footballing venue in Ireland according to the Football Association of Ireland, dating as far back as 1862 when it was known as the Bray Athletic Ground. Renamed in honour of the 7th Earl of Carlisle who was to become the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the ground was shortly to be known as the Carlisle Cricket and Archery Ground but as these sports fell out of fashion in Ireland it came to be known by its shorter name of The Carlisle Grounds.
Little is documented of the exact renovations the ground has undergone since first opening way back in the 19th century but most recently a 985 capacity stand was constructed in 2006, brining the seating capacity up to a reported 3,186. With capacity for 7,000 fans, the ratio of around 45:65 seating to terrace places is around average for football grounds in Ireland although there is suggestion that the club might look to add more seats.
In 2009 a section of the old wall collapsed after Shamrock Rovers fans celebrated a goal by trying to get closer to the players on the pitch. A similar accident happened the season after when fans of Monaghan United also broke some of the wall near to the Press Box by celebrating a goal scored during the promotion play-off against the home side Bray Wanderers causing an investigation by the Football Association of Ireland to be launched.
The club have since announced plans detailing the creation of a brand new stadium on the site of their current ground, in conjunction with a major retailer setting up a brand new supermarket and shopping facilities. The €5m euro redevelopment which was described as being the early stages at the beginning of 2010, will likely consist of new stands around each section of the pitch and improved club facilities such as the car park which will feature a reported 80 spaces.
Below is a seating plan of Bray Wanderers's Carlisle Grounds:
Carlisle Grounds Stadium is comprised of four stands: North, East, South and West.
Click the thumbnails above to enlarge an image of each stand and to read a more detailed description of each part of the stadium.
The Matchday Experience
Visiting supporters are usually housed within a few blocks of the Railway Side which is single-tiered uncovered stand which runs for the length of the pitch.
There are pubs worth checking out either side of the ground with the one to the south known as Ocean Bar. Popular on matchdays due to its proximity to Bray station, the Harbour Bar is located slightly further away towards the northern side of the ground on Seapoint Road.
Inside the stadium the usual grub is on offer as well as a selection of hot and cold drinks.
Fans of Bray Wanderers can primarily purchase official club merchandise on match days, and failing this, there is the club’s official online store run by nitro sports.
It doesn’t appear as if Bray Wanderers currently offer an official guided tour of the facilities at Carlisle Grounds. If this changes, or if the club build something worth showing off we’ll be happy to update this section. :)
Carlisle Grounds is a proper old-school stadium in the sense that it is located bang in the middle of the town’s main urban centre. From both station, and anywhere in town it is pretty much walkable within 10 minutes which gives the local area a great atmosphere on matchdays.
The address for satnav is as follows:
Carlisle Grounds, Quinsborough Rd, Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
There is limited parking available at the small club run car park which is accessible from the bottom of Seymour Road. Otherwise you’re looking at the “Pay and Display” parking around the ground which can be hit and miss due to the residential nature of the surrounding streets.
Carlisle Grounds is located well under five minutes from Bray train Station, with the length of the pitch even running parallel to the railway tracks which run to the east of the pitch.
The closest hotel to Bray’s stadium is The Royal Hotel and Merrill Leisure club which is located five minutes west of the ground on Quinsborough Road. The remaining options such The Martello and the Esplanade Hotel are all along Bray Promenande overlooking the Irish Sea, with the Wilton Hotel close to the golf club being another option worth considering.