A total of 85 Blue Flags were yesterday awarded in recognition of high standards at Irish beaches and marinas —one fewer than in 2015.

Four beaches — Redbarn and Garretstown in Cork; Portrane in Fingal, Co Dublin; and Ross Beach in Killala, Mayo — lost the Blue Flag status having secured the award last year.Judges said Ross Beach failed to secure the award because it had fewer lifeguard numbers than scheduled during 2015 in-season inspections.

Two locations — Ballymoney North Beach Co Wexford and Fenit Marina in Kerry — were awarded the Blue Flag for the first time, while Brittas Bay North in Wicklow regained the award it lost last year.

The Blue Flags were presented by Environment Minister Simon Coveney at an awards ceremony held on the Velvet Strand, Portmarnock in Co Dublin yesterday.

“In Ireland, we are particularly fortunate to have a varied and beautiful coastline with many pristine beaches that are open to the public to enjoy. However, we cannot rest on our laurels and must continue to make strident efforts to protect and improve our waters. This will ensure that we, and future generations, can continue to enjoy this wonderful resource,” Mr Coveney said.

Locals enjoying a walk by the shore line on Fenit Beach in Fenit, Co Kerry. Picture: Domnick Walsh
Locals enjoying a walk by the shore line on Fenit Beach in Fenit, Co Kerry. Picture: Domnick Walsh

The internationally recognised award is presented to beaches and marinas that meet a specific set of criteria related to water quality, information provision, environmental education, safety and beach management.

An Taisce is responsible for the operation of the Blue Flag programme in Ireland on behalf of the Foundation of Environmental Education.

“I would like on behalf of An Taisce to pay tribute to the local authorities and marina operators here today for all their efforts in ensuring that the sites being awarded for the 2016 bathing season have achieved the excellent standards required by the Blue Flag and Green Coast Awards,” said Ian Diamond, coastal awards manager at An Taisce’s Environmental Education Unit.

During the same ceremony, 56 beaches were presented the Green Coast Award in recognition of clean environment, water quality and natural beauty — three fewer than last year.

Boatstrand in Waterford took the award for the first time since 2010, while Red Strand in Cork regained the award due, in part, to improved water quality.

Having not met the excellent water quality standard required, Rocky Bay in Cork; Portrane in Fingal; Mayo’s White Strand and Cross in Louisburgh did not retain the award for 2016.

Six beaches — Portmarnock and Donabate in Dublin; Salthill and Silver Strand in Galway; Rosses Point in Sligo; and Ballymoney North Beach in Wexford — were presented with both the Blue Flag and Green Coast Award.

Ebb and flow

Catching a wave at Garrettstown, Co Cork, which has lost its Blue Flag status. Picture: Denis Minihane
Catching a wave at Garrettstown, Co Cork, which has lost its Blue Flag status. Picture: Denis Minihane

Gained a Blue Flag:

  • Kerry: Fenit Marina has been awarded the Blue Flag for the first time.
  • Wexford: A Blue Flag was presented to Ballymoney North Beach for the first time.
  • Wicklow: Brittas Bay North regained the Blue Flag it lost in 2015.

Lost a Blue Flag:

  • Cork: Redbarn and Garretstown did not achieve the excellent water quality status required under the Blue Flag criteria.
  • Dublin: Portrane did not achieve the excellent water quality status required under the Blue Flag criteria.
  • Mayo: Ross Beach in Killala, Mayo, due to there being fewer lifeguard numbers than scheduled during 2015 in-season inspections.

Gained a Green Coast Award:

  • Cork: Redstrand has been awarded the Green Coast Award for the first time since 2012.
  • Waterford: Boatstrand is being awarded the Green Coast Award for the first time since 2010.

Lost a Green Coast Award:

  • Cork: Rocky Bay did not meet the excellent water quality standard required for the Green Coast Award.
  • Dublin: Portrane did not achieve the excellent water quality status required.
  • Mayo: White Strand and Cross in Louisburgh did not meet the excellent water quality standard required for the Green Coast Award.

Awarded both a Blue Flag and Green Coast Award:

  • Dublin: Portmarnock and Donabate.
  • Galway:Salthill and Silver Strand.
  • Sligo: Rosses Point.
  • Wexford: Ballymoney North Beach.


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