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Blue Flag status awarded to a record number of Irish beaches

Cork and Dublin main gains but beaches in Wexford and Mayo lose out

Farrah Culhane (6) marking An Taisce's announcement of the International Blue Flag and Green Coast award recipients for 2021 on Killiney Beach, Co Dublin which has regained its Blue Flag after a 5 year absence.Pic:Naoise Culhane

Caroline O'Doherty

A record number of the country’s beaches have been awarded blue flag status this year.

The awards recognise excellence in water quality, a high standard of visitor facilities and good information for users.

Ninety-three beaches made the grade this year, with four earning a flag, or regaining one, while just two lost their status.

A further 63 green coast awards were made to areas that combined water quality excellence with strong conservation of the natural environment.

Of the blue flag recipients, 83 are beaches and 10 are marinas. The four added to the list this year are Cregane Strand and Inchydoney East in Co Cork; Golden Strand on Achill in Co Mayo and Killiney in Dublin.

Ballymoney North Beach in Co Wexford and Bertra in Co Mayo failed to retain blue flag status this year.

All 61 holders of the green coast awards last year retained their status and there were two additions: Rush South in Dublin and Gurteen Bay in Co Galway.

Six beaches achieved dual honours: Portmarnock in Co Dublin; Salthill and Silver Strand in Galway; Ballinskelligs in Co Kerry, Inchydoney East Beach in Co Cork and Rosses Point in Co Sligo.

Water quality measurements were taken during the official bathing season which runs from June 1 to September 15.

Year-round sea swimmers and the Environmental Protection Agency have called for more extensive testing out of season to provide greater information for the public.

An Taisce, which coordinates the blue flag and green coast awards, said they were important indicators of the quality beaches available to the public at the time of year they were used most.

Ian Diamond, coastal awards manager, paid tribute to the local authority staff and marina operators who kept striving for blue flag status, and to the thousands of volunteers who worked on green coasts projects.

“Without the collaborative approach to beach management demonstrated by local authorities and clean coasts groups around the country, the Green Coast Awards would not be possible,” he said.

The blue flag scheme, which is Europe-wide, has been operating in Ireland since 1987 and in the first year, just 19 beaches and two marinas received the award.

All applicant beaches are inspected to ensure they meet the various criteria to achieve or retain their flags.

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