Although many towns like Ferns, Roscrea and Trim are early historic f oundations, most are dominated by eighteenth and nineteenth-century buildings. From the mid-eighteenth century cattle fairs underpinned much of the urban economy, and the manner in which the centres of Irish towns and villages were given over to markets and fairs is evident in wide streets. More often than not, towns and villages were planned. They were given formal layouts, with market places, malls and squares, and important key buildings or monuments, carefully and prominently sited. The best examples include Mitchelstown, Birr , Hillsborough and Stradbally, where a general uniformity of character reflects the guiding influence of the resident landlord. The position of the landlord as proprietor of the town is often made explicit, such as at Strokestown, where houses line an exceptionally wide main street, forming a grand approach to the Gothic entrance of Strokestown House. Railways brought a new impetus to urban expansion, which was particularly evident in seaside towns like Dun Laoghaire and Bray. In most cases, the lasting legacy of the railway age is an exceptionally good housing stock, as rows of good-quality brick and stuccoed
houses were built in the closing decades of the nineteenth century.