Greystones (Irish: Na Clocha Liatha) is a coastal town in County Wicklow, Ireland. It is located on Ireland’s east coast, 8 km (5 miles) south of Bray and 27 km (17 mi) south of Dublin (it is within the Greater Dublin Area), with a population in the region of 15,000.
The town’s name is derived from a one kilometre stretch of coastal grey rocks situated between two beaches; this rocky area is known as the sea front. The harbour area and the railway station are at the northern and southern ends respectively. The North Beach, which begins at the harbour, is a stony beach and some of its length is overlooked by the southern cliffs of Bray Head, which are subject to erosion. The South Beach is a broad expansive sandy beach about one kilometre long. It was a Blue Flag beach and receives many visitors and tourists, mainly in the summer.
The town is bordered by the [[Irish Sea to the east, Bray Head to the north and the Wicklow Mountains to the west.
Greystones is located south of the site of an ancient castle of the Barony of Rathdown. There was a hamlet which, like the castle, was known as Rathdown, and which appeared on a 1712 map. This site occupied an area now known as the Grove, about a quarter-mile north of Greystones harbour, but only the ruins of a chapel, St. Crispin's Cell, survive. Greystones is a much more recent settlement and is first mentioned in Topographia Hibernica, a 1795 publication. Here it is described as a "noted fishing place four miles beyond Bray."
In the early 1800s, there were some families scattered around the harbour, Blacklion, Windgates, Killincarrig and Rathdown. Delgany was a more substantial and longer established village. However, Greystones was put on the map with the coming of the railway in 1855, a difficult undertaking which was performed in consultation with Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the famous engineer. The train station was built on the line dividing the properties of two landowners; the La Touche family of Bellevue House (now in ruins, near Delgany), and the Hawkins-Whitshed family of Killincarrig House (which is now Greystones Golf Club). It provided links with Bray and Dublin, and left room for development on the adjoining estates.
In the latter half of the nineteenth century, under the ownership of William Robert La Touche, Greystones' development gathered momentum. To the north of the station, Church Road, Victoria Road, and Trafalgar Road were laid out and many houses were built in the years following the arrival of the railway. Following her father's death, Elizabeth Hawkins-Whitshed was the sole inheritor of his property. In 1879, she married Frederick Gustavus Burnaby; a soldier, politician and traveller. Burnaby died in battle in 1885 and Elizabeth remarried twice, but the property continued to be known as the Burnaby Estate. In the early 1900s, the Burnabys began to expand the town on their side of the station, and the roads and houses of the Burnaby were developed and the population grew considerably. The names of these two families remain well-known today, with many roads and housing estates bearing their names.
Between 1885 and 1897, the people of Greystones campaigned for a harbour to aid the fishing industry and imports such as coal. The pier, dock, sea wall and boat-slip remain but have endured substantial damage. In the early 1900s, the town felt the effects of coastal erosion (which is still a major problem); the loss of fields and most of the houses on the North Beach Road, and the costly inland relocation of the railway have all resulted. In 1968, the old Kish lighthouse foundation was added to the end of the pier.
At the end of World War II, cars and petrol became widely available, allowing Greystones to gradually expand, filling in the space between itself and outlying areas such as Blacklion, Killincarrig, and Delgany. However, the popularity of the railway declined; its very existence being in jeopardy during the 1980s, as government cutbacks reduced the service to just a few trains per day. The 1990s brought a revival of sorts with the arrival of the electrified DART from Bray, and a much more frequent schedule.
Greystones has experienced a huge increase in its population since the 1970s with the construction of several large housing estates. A new development at Charlesland, just south of the town, includes over 1,000 dwelling units. As of the 2006 census the population of Greystones, including town and environs, stands at 14,569 making it the second largest town in the county after Bray.
Along with the housing developments, road networks and facilities have been improved to cater for the growth. The road between Greystones and Bray has been widened and realigned. A new dual carriageway link road (R774) connecting Greystones to the N11 has been completed. Construction of a full interchange with the N11 is under way.
According to the 2006 census, Greystones has the largest Church of Ireland presence as a proportion of the population (9.77%).