A number of Dublin beaches have regained the blue flags they lost last year.
A total of 134 Blue Flag Awards and National Green Coast Awards have been awarded to Irish beaches and coastal areas.
In good news for the Fingal region, the north Dublin area has regained four of the flags - in Skerries, Portrane, Balcarrick and Portmarnock.
These beaches all lost the award last year due to non-compliance.
In Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, the popular beaches of Killiney and Seapoint have kept their flags, despite being over-run with visitors thanks to last summer’s soaring temperatures.
Brittas Bay and Greystones also performed well, retaining their three flags for another year. Morriscastle in Wexford and Ballybunion North in Kerry regained their flags, after failing to meet water quality criteria last year. In Waterford, two flags were won back in Councellors Strand and Dunmore Strand.
Given last year’s heatwave, Irish beaches had a larger than usual volume of traffic to deal with - but still managed to keep their high standards.
This year’s awards sees some 76 beaches and four marinas being awarded the Blue Flag award, an increase in six since 2013.
Some 54 beaches in Ireland were awarded the Green Coast Award, an increase in nine.
However, five beaches were not awarded the flag due to ongoing works to repair extensive damage caused by the violent Spring storms. These beaches were Bertra and Mulranny in Mayo; Rossbeigh in Kerry and Miltown Malbay and Spanish Point in Clare.
Dog’s Bay in Galway also lost its Green Coast Award due to being battered by the high tides a few months ago.
Several places won awards for the first time, including Tra gCaorach Inis Oirr in Galway and Waterford’s Kilfrassey.
Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said this year sees an increase of 15 on the 2013 awards.
“It’s a testament to efforts of communities, local authorities and An Taisce and the sterling work they do,” he said.
He added how results could even have been better except for the devastation of the storms last Winter which caused significant damage in some coastal regions.
Tribute was also paid to the hard work of the Clean Coasts groups, which are made up of thousands of volunteers who work for free to keep the coastlines clear of rubbish.
The Blue Flag is administered by An Taisce and must meet a total of 32 criteria for bathing waters.
An Taisce’s Patricia Oliver said that in order to be eligible for a Blue Flag, a beach or marina must comply with strict criteria relating to water quality, safety, facilities for visitors, beach management, litter control and environmental education.
In 2013, over 700 beach cleans took place with the groups removing over 500,000 items of marine litter.