There were 90 Blue Flags and 60 Green Coast Awards awarded this year by An Taisce.
The Blue Flag programme raises environmental awareness and promote sound environmental management of beaches, marinas and inland bathing waters around the world, while the Green Coast Award recognises beaches for their clean environment, water quality and natural beauty.
For visitors to the Irish coast, a blue flag is a reassuring sign that the water they’re about to enter is safe and unpolluted.
The 80 Irish beaches and 10 marinas awarded a blue flag for this year must adhere to specific criteria on water quality, information, environmental education, safety and site management. Two beaches; Baginbunin in Co Wexford and Carrigahold in Co Clare, were awarded the Green Coast Award in 2020 for the first time. Mornington beach in County Meath regained its Green Coast Award status having last held the award in 2017.
Meanwhile, four sites awarded Green Coast status last year did not retain this for 2020. Arklow beach in Co Wicklow did not meet the required water quality to obtain Green Coast Award status this year, while in-season water quality testing at Dumhach Beach and East End Bay, both on Inisbofin, could not be carried out as a result of restrictions relating to Covid-19. Trá Inis Oirrcould not be awarded the status due to the absence of an in-season lifeguard service. However, the jury added that in light of the potential for changes to restrictions currently in place, if all criteria could be met at a later point in the summer, it may be possible to award these sites during the 2020 season.
Five beaches achieved dual award status, including Portmarnock in Fingal, Salthill and Silver Strand in Co Galway, Rosses Point in Co Sligo and Ballinskelligs in Kerry.
These sites have fulfilled all Blue Flag criteria relating to water quality, facilities for visitors, beach management, environmental education and the provision of information, while also fulfilling the Green Coast Award requirement of community involvement in the management of the site, the judges said.
Announcing the awards, Ian Diamond, Coastal Awards Manager with An Taisce’s Environmental Education Unit, said it is important to bear in mind the “additional pressure” being put on local authorities to manage beaches during the Covid-19 pandemic. “ With unprecedented numbers forced to stay at home for the past few months from work and school we must be cognisant of the challenges facing those managing our beaches,” Mr Diamond said.
“In the same manner as we have all worked together against Covid-19 we must all exercise personal responsibility to enjoy our beaches in a safe and sustainable way.”
Full list of Blue Flag beaches & Marinas for 2020
Louth: Shellinghill/Templetown, Port/Lurganboy, Clogherhead
Fingal: Portmarnock/Velvet Strand
Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown: Seapoint
Wicklow: Bray South Promenade, Greystones, Brittas Bay North Beach, Brittas Bay South Beach
Wexford: Ballymoney North Beach, Morriscastle, Ballinesker Beach, Curracloe, Rosslare, Carne, Kilmore Quay Marina, New Ross Marina
Waterford: Councillors Strand Dunmore East, Dunmore Strand, Tramore, Clonea, Ardmore
Cork: Youghal Claycastle, Redbarn Beach, Garylucas, Garretstown, Inchydoney, Owenahincha, Tagumna, Barleycove, Kinsale Yacht Club, Royal Cork Yacht Club
Kerry: Derrynane, Ballinskelligs, White Strand Caherciveen, Kells, Rossbeigh, Inch, Ventry, Magherabeg, Banna, Ballyheigue, Ballybunion South Beach, Fenit, Fenit Marina, Portmagee Pontoons
Clare: Cappa Pier, Kilkee, White Strand Doonbeg, Spanish Point, White Strand Miltown Malbay, Lahinch, Fanore, Ballycuggeran (Killaloe), Mountshannon, Kilrush Marina
Galway: Portumna, Loughrea Lake, Traught, Salthill, Silverstrand, An Trá Mhór (Inverin), Trá an Dóilin (An Cheathrú Rua)
Mayo: Bertra, Carrowmore, Clare Island, Mulranny, Dooega, Keel, Keem, Silverstrand Dugort, Mullaghroe, Elly Bay, Ross Killala,
Sligo: Rosse Point
Donegal: Bundoran, Rossnowlagh, Murvagh, Fintra, Portnoo/Narin, Carrickfinn, Killahoey, Marblehill, Downings, Magherawarden (Portsalon), Culdaff, Stroove, Greencastle Marina,Rathmullan Marina