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Five popular beaches lose coveted ‘blue flag’ status, but overall record of 95 awards for the 2022 season

  • Five well-known beaches have lost their ‘blue flag’ status
  • Seven beaches not awarded a blue flag in 2021 have been awarded one for the coming bathing season


Bray Beach

Bray Beach

Bray Beach

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.

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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.”

Blue Flag Beachs 2022: 85 (+2)

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

Blue Flag Marinas 2022: 8 (+1)

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

Green Coast Awards 62 Beaches

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

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