Journal Volume 7 2013

Greystones before World War I

Greystones, 1864-1964, Samuel French (1964)


During the whole of this period [before WW1] our main mode of transport was the railway. Motor cars were as yet in the experimental stage, proceeding in clouds of dust with much blowing of horns and frequent breakdowns. At night thick darkness brooded over our streets until in 1910 a local company was formed and an electric power house was erected in the Hillside Road, which continued to serve the town until taken over by the Electricity Supply Board.South Beach, Greystones

For nine months of the year the “City Fathers” met each morning at 7am in the men’s bathing place for a morning plunge before breakfast at 8am and catching the 8.45am train to Dublin. Those who missed this train had to join the Wexford train at 10am, which usually ran late. “It is impossible,” it was said, “to be late for the ten o’clock train!” For local transport a number of Carmen provided carriages known as vis-à-vis and side cards which awaited the arrival of the trains at the railway station.

During the first decade of the present century most of the houses in Greystones were built by the owners for summer letting and remained shut up from the end of September until Spring. Greystones CottagesThen the inhabitants were busy getting ready for the season which opened on the 1st of June. The letting months were June, July, August and September. Then on a summer evening men in dinner jackets, and ladies in evening dress, strolled on the seafront until approaching darkness and evening chill warned that it was time to retire indoors. It was then that the boys saw the girls home, for papas were very strict and all the family had to be in before dark.

On the south beach a row of bathing boxes catered for the ladies and here mothers and daughters spent the morning until lunch time. In the after-noons a drive to the Glen of the Downs or a walk to the top of Little Sugar Loaf were popular, although some were taking up a comparatively new pastime and played golf on the new course on the slopes of Jones’s Hill.


Golfing in Greystones

Golfing in Greystones

Life was very calm and peaceful to the very eve of the outbreak of the First World War. The 4th of August 1914, was a day of cloudless sunshine.


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