Revealed: Record 95 blue flags awarded as Cork beach claims first in 30 years

Cork can boast the most top quality beaches for the bathing season with 15 Green Coast Awards.
Revealed: Record 95 blue flags awarded as Cork beach claims first in 30 years

A packed Fountainstown beach in Co Cork. File picture: Eddie O'Hare

A beach in Co Cork has been awarded blue flag status for the first time in more than 30 years.

Fountainstown beach, south of Cork City, has been awarded the flag for the first time since 1991. It is only the second time the beach has won the flag.

The Rebel County can also boast the most top quality beaches for the bathing season with 15 Green Coast Awards.

This year saw a record-breaking 95 blue flags and 62 Green Coast Awards awarded by An Taisce.

Youghal Front Strand in east Cork is another big winner as it will fly the blue flag for the first time since 2011.

Some 85 beaches and 10 marinas have been given the blue flag for 2022, up two from last year's total.

Seven beaches that did not feature last year are on the 2022 list, including Fountainstown and Youghal Front Strand.

Beautiful sunshine at the Front Strand, Youghal, Co. Cork. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Beautiful sunshine at the Front Strand, Youghal, Co. Cork. Picture: Denis Minihane.

The other beaches include Trá Inis Oírr (Main Beach) in Co Galway - which has claimed a flag for the first time - as well as Balcarrick, Donabate and Rush, South Beach in Dublin; Ballybunnion North Beach in Kerry and Ballymoney North Beach, in Co Wexford.

Fountainstown has 'turned into the south of Spain'

Toasting the success of Fountainstown beach, Paddy Quinlan - who runs Funkytown Adventure Centre in the area - said the blue flag is like the Holy Grail.

"It's huge. Huge new altogether. I remember the last blue flag. I was slightly younger than," he joked.

Mr Quinlan told the Irish Examiner that the flag is a reflection of the work being done by the council and the local groups in maintaining a high standard at the beach.

"Everyone's been working away for the past few years so it's [been] a good bit of effort."

He added that the locals have "had our battles over the years" but recently water testing issues have been addressed to improve the quality.

Mr Quinlan added that since Covid, people have "found an appreciation" for the water again with people going to Fountainstown beach seven days a week.

"The place has turned into the south of Spain down here!"

Paddy Quinlan was delighted to see Fountainstown earn a blue flag. File picture: Jim Coughlan.
Paddy Quinlan was delighted to see Fountainstown earn a blue flag. File picture: Jim Coughlan.

Cork and Kerry have two marinas a piece who have won blue flags this year. Kinsale Yacht Club and the Royal Cork Yacht Club Marina in Crosshaven have been honoured as well as Kerry's Fenit Marina and Portmagee Seasonal Pontoon.

The blue flag originated in France in 1985 and it aims to raise environmental awareness and promote sound environmental management of beaches, marinas and eco-tourism boats around the world.

The flags were first raised in Ireland in 1988 when 19 beaches and two marinas were given the award.

Five beaches that achieved blue flag status last year have missed out on the honour this year, including the Warren, Cregane Strand in Cork. The other beaches are Bray South Promenade in Wicklow; Traught, Kinvara in Co Galway; Carrowmore and Clare Island in Co Mayo.

None of those beaches achieved the 'excellent' water quality classification necessary to be awarded the blue flag. Each of the sites received a classification of 'good', the second highest classification available based on analysis of bathing water samples over the past four bathing seasons.

All 10 marinas awarded in 2021 have retained blue flag status for the coming season.

Meanwhile, 62 beaches are to receive the Green Coast Award for the upcoming bathing season.

The Green Coast Award recognises beaches for their clean environment, excellent water quality and natural beauty.

Cork has the most Green Coast Award beaches once again in 2022 with 15. Last year, the county had 13 beaches on the list.

Ballynamona Beach in Cork has been awarded a Green Coast Award for the first time this year.

Ballynamona Ceach in East Cork. File picture: Dan Linehan
Ballynamona Ceach in East Cork. File picture: Dan Linehan

Fountainstown and Inchydoney East have both been awarded blue flag and Green Coast Awards.

Speaking about the awards, Ian Diamond, Coastal Awards Manager for An Taisce, said: "It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to manage a beach or marina to the excellent standards required by these award programmes."

Malcolm Noonan, the Minister for State, added: "This year celebrates 35 years of the blue flag as an international programme and during that time the blue flag has become an internationally recognised symbol of high standards in water quality, environmental management, environmental education and safety.

"I am pleased to be presenting 95 blue flags and 62 green coast awards today and want to commend the great efforts made by local authorities, An Taisce, coastal communities and volunteers for their work around the country."

Munster's blue flag beaches:

Blue flag Beaches and Marinas 2022.
Blue flag Beaches and Marinas 2022.

CORK 

  • Youghal Front Strand;
  • Youghal Claycastle;
  • Redbarn;
  • Fountainstown;
  • Garrylucas;
  • Garretstown;
  • Inchydoney East Beach;
  • Inchydoney West Beach;
  • Owenahincha;
  • Tragumna;
  • Barleycove.

KERRY 

  • Derrynane;
  • Ballinskelligs;
  • White Strand, Caherciveen;
  • Kells;
  • Rossbeigh, White Strand;
  • Inch;
  • Ventry;
  • Magherabeg;
  • Fenit;
  • Banna;
  • Ballyheigue;
  • Ballybunion South Beach;
  • Ballybunion North Beach.

CLARE

  • Cappa Pier, Kilrush;
  • Kilkee;
  • Whitestrand, Doonbeg;
  • Spanish Point;
  • Miltown Malbay;
  • Lahinch;
  • Fanore;
  • Ballycuggeran;
  • Mountshannon.

WATERFORD 

  • Counsellors’ Strand;
  • Dunmore East;
  • Tramore;
  • Clonea, Dungarvan;
  • Ardmore.

Munster's blue flag marinas:

CORK 

  • Royal Cork Yacht Club, Crosshaven;
  • Kinsale Yacht Club.

KERRY 

  • Fenit Marina;
  • Portmagee Seasonal Visitors Pontoons.

CLARE 

  • Kilrush Marina.

Munster's Green Coast Award beaches:

Green Coast Awards 2022.
Green Coast Awards 2022.

CORK 

  • Ring;
  • Ardnahinch, Shanagarry;
  • Ballynamona Beach;
  • Inch Strand;
  • Fountainstown Beach;
  • Rocky Bay;
  • Oysterhaven;
  • Inchydoney East;
  • Red Strand;
  • Sherkin Island, Silver Strand;
  • Cadogan's Strand;
  • Ballyrisode;
  • Galley Cove;
  • Dooneen Pier;
  • Garnish Beach, Lehanmore;

KERRY 

  • Waterville;
  • Ballinskelligs;
  • Béal Bán;
  • Castlegregory;
  • Littor.

CLARE 

  • Carrigaholt Beach;
  • Ballyallia Lake;
  • Seafield;
  • Bishops Quarter.

WATERFORD 

  • Guillamene Cove;
  • Newtown Cove, Tramore;
  • Kilfarrassey;
  • Annestown;
  • Ballyquin;
  • Curragh;
  • Goat Island Beach.

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