Ocean Hero Awards 2017 | The People and Communities Creating a Better Coast!

Clean Coasts hosted their 11th annual Ocean Talks and Ocean Hero Awards yesterday in Dublin and this years winners were an impressive mix of people and groups from around the country who had gone above and beyond in their contributions to conserving and protecting our coastline.

The event also provided a fantastic opportunity to learn from the diverse experiences of those leading the effort to combat pollution and waste on our coast.

Ocean Hero Awards 2017

Proinsias O’Tuama, Ballynamona Clean Coasts group, Co Cork who won Outstanding Award and Dr Easkey Britton, pro surfer and NUIG researcher at An Taisce’s Ocean Hero Awards 2017. (Credit Naoise Culhane)

The presence of marine litter in our oceans is a global concern that requires action and awareness of this problem is growing everyday. Adequate measures are needed to address the impacts of litter in the marine environment both at sea and on land whereby public awareness and community action plays a vital role.

The Ocean Heroes Awards brought together key stakeholders in the area of marine litter such as coastal communities, NGOs, tourism bodies, the science community, business and the fishing industry – and of course St. Colmans school who made the journey up in an electric car, nicely highlighting their commitment to the environment!


The event kicked off with the Ocean Talks with speakers talking about some of their work and experience with marine pollution. The speakers included Pro Surfer and Marine and Social Scientist at NUIG Dr Easkey Britton who shared her work exploring the relationship between people and the sea. She highlighted her preliminary finding on how being by the ocean and taking part in beach cleans is not only good for the environment but also for our health.

Ocean Hero Awards 2017

Martha Farrell from Maharees Conservation Group, Co Kerry who won Group of the Year at An Taisce’s Ocean Hero Awards 2017. (Credit Naoise Culhane)

Dr Yvonne Lang, Sligo Institute of Technology talked about her research on marine microorganisms, specifically the visually mesmerising diatoms, and how they interact with microplastics. Siobhan Faulker of the Clogherhead Development Group finished up by talking about the incredible conservation work that is being done in Clogherhead with initiatives like Tidy Towns and working closely with BIM’s Net Recycling and Fishing For Litter.

Ocean Hero Awards 2017

Alison Duggan, Conor Bennett, Áine Lane, Ross Shanahan and Katie Walsh from St Coleman’s Community College, Midleton, Co Cork who won School of the Year (Credit Naoise Culhane)

After the talks the fantastic work by all Clean Coast groups around the country over the past year was acknowledged and celebrated. Since it first started the Clean Coast programme has grown to over 600 Clean Coast groups established who meet regularly to make a difference by tackling the serious issue of marine pollution.

Seven awards were handed out and the winners of the Clean Coasts Ocean Hero Award 2017 are:

Group of the Year: Maharees Conservation Group, Kerry

Individual of the Year: Seamus McGoldrick, Strandhill, Sligo

Idea of the Year: NorthWest Coastal Clean Ups, Sligo

School of the Year: St Colman’s Community College, Cork

Business of the Year: Galway Atlantaquaria, Galway

Beach Clean of the Year: Creevy Co-Op, Donegal

Outstanding Achievement Award: Clean Coast Ballynamona / Proinsias O’Tuama

Sinead McCoy, Coastal Communities Manager with An Taisce’s Environmental Education Unit: “Over the past 11 years the Clean Coasts programme’s Ocean Hero Awards have really brought to the fore the remarkable work and wonderful coastal celebration events that Clean Coasts volunteers have been involved in along the Irish coastline. This year was no different as we received so many inspirational nominations that show the true dedication of these coastal custodians.”

About the Author

Daniel Farrell

Interested in all things on the Irish coast and sharing the best of it. // Email: Daniel@coastmonkey.ie // Follow on Twitter: @DanielsSeaViews