Blue Flags lost due to winter storm damage

Storms that ravaged Ireland’s coast at the start of the year have cost several beaches their coveted Blue Flag award.

Blue Flags lost due to winter storm damage

However, others regained the status after undertaking extensive repair or improvement works and a total of 80 bathing places secured the award, six more than last year.

Nine Blue Flags were regained in Dublin, Wexford, Clare, and Kerry. They had been lost in 2013 through failing to meet water quality.

Beaches in Mayo and Kerry lost their flags because of continuing works due to damage caused by the storms.

Some areas did not apply for the award this year as repair works continue. In Clare, Miltown Malbay and Spanish Point were not awarded the Blue Flag due to ongoing works, primarily as a result of storm damage.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan said this year’s roll of honour would have been lengthier had our shores not been battered in January and February.

“Results might even have been better except for the devastation of the storms which caused significant damage in some areas,” he said.

A total of 76 beaches and four marinas were awarded the prestigious Blue Flag. Once again, Donegal has the most, retaining its 13 Blue Flags, followed by Kerry with 12.

Among the four marinas retaining their Blue Flag status are Killinure in Westmeath, Kilmore Quay and New Ross in Wexford, and the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Cork.

An Taisce also awarded 54 of the lesser Green Coast awards to beaches — up nine from last year. The award is for more remote bathing places that do not have the infrastructure to qualify for Blue Flags.

Among those to regain the Blue Flag were Portmarnock, Portrane, Donabate, and Skerries South Beach in Dublin. Morriscastle in Wexford and Ballybunion North in Kerry also took back their flag, as did Counsellors Strand and Dunmore Strand in Waterford, and Lahinch in Clare.

Ongoing works to repair extensive storm damage at Bertra and Mulranny in Mayo, Rossbeigh in Kerry, and Miltown Malbay and Spanish Point in Clare were not sufficient to allow them achieve the distinction.

However, Kell’s Bay in Kerry, which was also devastated by storms, managed to retain its Blue Flag after undertaking extensive repairs to the beach, foreshore, and adjacent caravan park.

Dog’s Bay in Galway lost its Green Coast Award after suffering infrastructural damage from the severe winds and tides.

Tra gCaorach in Inis Oirr and Kilfrassey in Waterford scooped the award for the first time.

The Green Coast Awards feature the involvement of volunteer groups, of which there are now over 400.

Patricia Oliver, director of environmental education at An Taisce, praised volunteers’ efforts. She said: “In 2013, over 700 beach cleans took place and these groups removed over 500,000 items of marine litter from the marine environment.”

Blue flags

Cork Blue Flags:

Garrylucas

Inchydoney

Owenahincha

Barleycove

Tragumna

Kerry Blue Flags:

Ballinskelligs

Ballybunion North

Ballybunion South

Ballyheigue

Banna

Derrynane

Fenit

Inch

Kells

Maherabeg

Ventry

White Strand

Clare Blue Flags:

Ballycuggeran

Kilkee

Whitestrand Doonbeg

Mountshannon

Cappa

Fanore

Lahinch

Galway Blue Flags:

Traught

Cill Mhuirbhigh

Loughrea

Salthill

Silverstrand

Tra an Doilin

Tra Mhor, Indreabhan

Waterford Blue Flags:

Waterford

Clonea

Counsellors Strand

Dunmore Strand

Tramore

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