Five well-known beaches have lost their ‘blue flag’ status, including the popular Bray South Promenade, in the east of the country.
An Taisce, the national trust for Ireland, today revealed the downgrades in its International Blue Flag and Green Coast Award competition for 2022.
Along with the Wicklow beach, those awarded the ‘blue flag’ in 2021 but not this year were Warren, Cregane Strand, in Co Cork; Traught, Kinvara in Co Galway; and Carrowmore and Clare Island in Co Mayo.
None of these beaches achieved the ‘excellent’ water quality classification necessary to be awarded the blue flag.
However each site received a classification of ‘good’, the second highest available based on analysis of bathing water samples taken over the past four bathing seasons.
Despite the downgrades, a record-breaking 95 blue flags and green coast awards were handed out, while 79 of the 83 beaches awarded a blue flag in 2021 retained the status for the 2022 bathing season.
Seven beaches not awarded a blue flag in 2021 have been awarded one for the coming bathing season.
These were: Trá Inis Oírr main beach in Co Galway, Fountainstown and Youghal Front Strand in Co Cork; Balcarrick, Donabate and Rush, South Beach in Fingal; Ballybunion North Beach in Kerry and Ballymoney North Beach, in Co Wexford.
For Trá Inis Oírr, it was the first time it has received the blue flag.
Fountainstown was awarded for the first time since 1991 and the second time since blue flags were first awarded in Ireland.
Apart from beaches, all 10 marinas awarded the flag in 2021 have retained the status for the coming season. However, no Dublin-based marina was on the list.
The Blue Flag Programme has been in operation since 1987 with the first awards presented for the 1988 bathing season, when 21 flags were awarded. Before this year, the highest number of flags was awarded in 2021, when there were 93.
There are 33 criteria a beach must hit to get the award.
For example, no industrial, waste-water or sewage-related discharges should affect the beach area and environmental education activities must be offered and promoted to beach users.
Since 2012, beaches applying for blue flag and green coast awards are assessed based on the standards of the new EU Bathing Water Directive.
Meanwhile 62 beaches received the green coast award.
It recognises beaches for their clean environment, excellent water quality and natural beauty.
Green coast sites are described as “exceptional places to visit and enjoy our rich coastal heritage and diversity.”
The award was presented back in 2003 to four beaches in Co Wexford and was rolled out nationally in 2008.
It is operated by An Tasice’s environmental education unit with the support of the Department of Local Government and Fáilte Ireland.
Clean coasts groups, of which there are more than 1,800 comprised of tens of thousands of volunteers nationwide, are centrally involved in securing the award.
These volunteers participate in community clean-ups and in cooperation with local authorities help manage their local beaches throughout the year.
Minister of State for Heritage, Malcom Noonan, today attended the awards at a ceremony Curracloe Beach in Co Wexford.
"This year celebrates 35 years of the blue flag as an international programme and during that time the blue fag has become an internationally recognised symbol of high standards in water quality, environmental management, environmental education and safety,” he said.
“I want to commend the great efforts made by local authorities, An Taisce, coastal communities and volunteers for their work around the country.”
1 Clare County Council Ballycuggeran
2 Clare County Council Cappagh Pier, Kilrush
3 Clare County Council Fanore
4 Clare County Council Kilkee
5 Clare County Council Lahinch
6 Clare County Council Mountshannon, Lough Derg
7 Clare County Council Spanish Point
8 Clare County Council White Strand Doonbeg
9 Clare County Council White Strand Miltown Malbay
10 Cork County Council Barley Cove
11 Cork County Council Fountainstown
12 Cork County Council Garretstown
13 Cork County Council Garrylucas, White Strand
14 Cork County Council Inchydoney East Beach
15 Cork County Council Inchydoney West Beach
16 Cork County Council Owenahincha, Little Island Strand
17 Cork County Council Redbarn
18 Cork County Council Tragumna
19 Cork County Council Youghal, Claycastle
20 Cork County Council Youghal, Front Strand
21 Donegal County Council Culdaff
22 Donegal County Council Bundoran
23 Donegal County Council Carrickfinn
24 Donegal County Council Downings
25 Donegal County Council Fintra
26 Donegal County Council Killahoey
27 Donegal County Council Marble Hill
28 Donegal County Council Murvagh
29 Donegal County Council Naran
30 Donegal County Council Portsalon
31 Donegal County Council Rossnowlagh
32 Donegal County Council Stroove
33 Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council Killiney
34 Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council Seapoint
35 Fingal County Council Balcarrick, Donabate
36 Fingal County Council Portmarnock, Velvet Strand Beach
37 Fingal County Council Rush, South Beach
38 Galway City Council Salthill Beach
39 Galway City Council Silverstrand Beach
40 Galway County Council An Trá Mór, Coill Rua, Indreabhán
41 Galway County Council Bathing Place at Portumna
42 Galway County Council Cill Mhuirbhigh, Inis Mór
43 Galway County Council Loughrea Lake
44 Galway County Council Trá an Dóilín, An Ceathrú Rua
45 Galway County Council Trá Inis Oírr (Main Beach)
46 Kerry County Council Baile an Sceilg (Ballinskelligs)
47 Kerry County Council Ballybunion North Beach
48 Kerry County Council Ballybunion South Beach
49 Kerry County Council Ballyheigue
50 Kerry County Council Banna Strand
51 Kerry County Council Doire Fhíonáin (Derrynane)
52 Kerry County Council Fenit
53 Kerry County Council Fionntrá (Ventry)
54 Kerry County Council Inch
55 Kerry County Council Kells
56 Kerry County Council Maharabeg
57 Kerry County Council Rossbeigh, White Strand
58 Kerry County Council White Strand, Caherciveen
59 Louth County Council Clogherhead
60 Louth County Council Port, Lurganboy
61 Louth County Council Shelling Hill/Templetown
62 Mayo County Council Dooega Beach, Achill Island
63 Mayo County Council Dugort Beach, Achill Island
64 Mayo County Council Elly Bay, Belmullet
65 Mayo County Council Golden Strand, Achill Island
66 Mayo County Council Keel Beach, Achill Island
67 Mayo County Council Keem Beach, Achill Island
68 Mayo County Council Mullaghroe Beach, Belmullet
69 Mayo County Council Mulranny Beach
70 Mayo County Council Ross Beach, Killala
71 Sligo County Council Rosses Point Beach
72 Waterford City & County Council Ardmore Beach
73 Waterford City & County Council Clonea Beach
74 Waterford City & County Council Counsellors' Strand, Dunmore East
75 Waterford City & County Council Dunmore Strand, Dunmore East
76 Waterford City & County Council Tramore Beach
77 Wexford County Council Ballinesker
78 Wexford County Council Ballymoney North Beach
79 Wexford County Council Carne
80 Wexford County Council Curracloe
81 Wexford County Council Morriscastle
82 Wexford County Council Rosslare Strand
83 Wicklow County Council Bray South Promenade
84 Wicklow County Council Brittas Bay North
85 Wicklow County Council Greystones South Beach
1 Cork Kinsale Yacht Club
2 Cork The Royal Cork Yacht Club Marina
3 Clare Kilrush Marina
4 Donegal Greencastle Marina
5 Donegal Rathmullan Marina
6 Kerry Fenit Marina
7 Kerry Portmagee Seasonal Pontoon
8 Westmeath Quigley's Marina, Killinure Point
9 Wexford Kilmore Quay Marina
10 Wexford New Ross Marina
1 Clare Ballyallia Lake
2 Clare Bishops Quarter
3 Clare Carrigaholt Beach
4 Clare Seafield
5 Cork Sherkin Island, Silver Strand Beach
6 Cork Ballyrisode
7 Cork Galley Cove
8 Cork Inch Strand
9 Cork Ardnahinch, Shanagarry
10 Cork Ring
11 Cork Oysterhaven
12 Cork Rocky Bay
13 Cork Dooneen Pier
14 Cork Red Strand
15 CorkCadogan's Strand,
16 Cork Garnish Beach, Lehanmore
17 Cork Ballynamona Beach
18 Cork Fountainstown Beach
19 Cork Inchydoney East
20 Donegal Ballyheirnan
21 Donegal Drumnatinney
22 Donegal Dooey Beach
23Donegal Magheroarty Beach
24 Donegal Ballyheirnan
25 Fingal Balcarrick Beach, Donabate
26 Galway City Silver Strand
27 Galway City Salthill
28 Galway County Aillebrack/Silver Hill
29 Galway County Dumhach Beach
30Galway County Trá Poll na gCaorach, Inis Oirr
31 Galway County Trá Inis Oirr
32 Galway County East End Bay, Inisbofin
33 Galway County Renvyle Beach (The Whitestrand)
34 Kerry Littor
35 Kerry Waterville
36 Kerry Ballinskelligs
37 Kerry Castlegregory
38 Kerry Béal Bán
39 Louth Seapoint Beach, Termonfeckin
40 Mayo Termon Beach
41 Mayo Srah Beach
42 Mayo Portacloy Beach
43 Mayo Rinroe
44 Mayo Tránaun, Inishturk
45 Meath Mornington
46 SligoRosses Point
47 Sligo Streedagh Beach
48 Waterford Ballyquin
49 Waterford Annestown
50 Waterford Newtown Cove, Tramore
51 Waterford Goat Island Beach
52 Waterford Curragh
53 Waterford Kilfarrassey
54 Wexford Cahore Point Beach
55 Wexford Ballyhealy
56 Wexford Grange
57 Wexford Old Bawn Beach
58 Wexford Baginbun Beach
59 Wexford Cullenstown Strand
60 Wexford St. Helen's Bay
61 Wexford Culleton's Gap
62 Wexford Booley Bay