| 17.7°C Dublin

Ireland loses 13 Blue Flag beaches because water quality not good enough


Litter on Portmarnock beach in Dublin

Litter on Portmarnock beach in Dublin

Litter on Portmarnock beach in Dublin

THIRTEEN Irish beaches have lost their coveted Blue Flag status because water quality wasn’t good enough.

Stricter new EU bathing water quality standards introduced this year led to the huge wave of losses.

Ireland only received 74 blue flags today – a drop of 13 on last year’s total.

A further 12 beaches also lost Green Coast awards also because of the higher standards.

Stripped of blue flags were Skerries South Beach, Donabate, the Brook Beach Portrane , the Velvet Strand Portmarnock all Dublin, Ballybunion North beach, Kerry, White Strand Miltown Malbay and Lahinch, Clare and Ceibh an Spideal in Galway.

Others who lost their 2012 blue flags as they did not apply this year were Dollymount, Dublin , Morriscastle, Wexford, Bunmahon in Waterford, Redbarn , Garryvoe, Garretstown and Barleycove, Cork, and Old Head, Mayo.

Mullaghmore in Sligo could not be awarded the flag as there are ongoing issues with livestock roaming on the main beach area “creating an unsafe environment for beach users.”

Three new blue flags were awarded to Killiney  and Seapoint in Dublin and the Royal Cork Yacht Club marina in Cork.

Dublin received just two blue flags in total, which Donegal got 13, the biggest number awarded to any county this year.

Beaches which lost Green Coast Awards also because they failed to comply  with the stricter new bathing water criteria were : Skerries South Beach, The Brook Beach Portrane , Balcarrick, the Velvet Strand Portmarnock, all in Dublin, Mornington, Meath, Silverstrand , Mayo, and Ladies Bay ,Donegal.

Arklow South beach in Wicklow lost its award due to non-compliance based on insufficient water sample numbers.

Applications were not received this year from last year’s Green Coast award holders at  Dollymount and Malahide , Dublin, and Garryvoe and Fountainstown in Cork.

Newtown Cove, Co Waterford and Cross beach, Louisburgh, Co Mayo regained their Green Coast awards.

The 70 beaches and 4 marinas that received flags today met a specific set of criteria related to water quality, information provision, environmental education and beach management.

In previous years, the Blue Flag water quality criteria was based on the 1976 EU Bathing Water Directive.

However from this year they are based on the 2006 EU Bathing Water Directive which is in line with the latest scientific information and current best practice.

The EU, influenced by the World Health Organisation guidelines, used higher standards to identify the potential risk of disease to bathers and to protect public health.

As a result, beaches must meet the “Excellent” standard of water quality in order to be considered for the Blue Flag Award.

Beaches that met the “Good” standard were not considered for the award though some of these would have been eligible under the old rules which were based on the old directive.

Bathing water is now based on water samples from a four year period instead of the monitoring results from a single bathing season.

An Taisce, which organises the Irish awards, said the new standard “gives stronger focus to the protection of public health and promotes a proactive approach to the management of bathing water quality. “

An Taisce also launched the  new Blue Flag Ireland website which can be found at www.blueflagireland.org.

This website is designed as a beach user resource providing information on each individual blue flag beaches and marinas.

 The website incorporates general beach/ marina information, information about education activities, water quality and safety and services..

An Taisce director Patricia Oliver: “Blue Flag and Green Coast awards at a beach or marina are a sign of quality.”

“ These awards are not easily achieved and represent to the public, locations which have been rigorously assessed. “

“They also represent a real effort by local authorities to work towards the highest standards in water quality, beach management, safety and environmental excellence.”

Environment Minister Hogan said: “ These programmes give a sound guarantee of excellent quality and standards to tourists and promote a sense of pride among local populations and beach management staff.”










Louth County Council retains all 3 Blue Flags at Templetown, Port and Clogherhead.

Dublin – 2 Flags

DLR – 2 Blue Flags were regained at Killiney and Seapoint. These beaches were last awarded in 2008.

Fingal – 4 applications were received for beaches in Fingal, however Balcarrick Donabate, Skerries South Beach, Velvet Strand Portmarnock and The Brook Beach Portrane were not awarded based on non-compliance with the water quality requirements.

Dublin City – An application was not received for Dollymount.


Wicklow County Council retains the Blue Flag at Brittas Bay North, Brittas Bay South and Greystones.


Wexford County Council retained flags for 2013 at Courtown, Curracloe, and Rosslare. An application was not received for Morriscastle.


Waterford County Council retained the Blue Flag for the 2013 season at Clonea Strand and Tramore. An application for the 2013 season was not received for Bunmahon.


Cork County Council is in receipt of 5 Blue Flags for the 2013 bathing season. These are Tragumna, Owenahincha, The Warren, Inchydoney and Garrylucas. Applications were not received for Redbarn, Garryvoe, Garretstown and Barleycove.


Kerry County Council is in receipt of 12 flags for Derrynane, Magherabeg, Ballinskelligs, White Strand-Caherciveen, Kells, Rossbeigh, Inch, Ventry, Fenit, Banna, Ballyheigue and Ballybunion South. Ballybunion North was not successful as it did not meet the requirements for bathing water quality.


Clare County Council has been awarded 6 flags for Cappagh Pier, Kilkee, Doonbeg, Fanore, Ballycuggeran and Mountshannon. 2 flags were lost at White Strand Miltown Malbay and Lahinch as these beaches did not meet the required bathing water quality requirements.


Galway City Council retained 2 Blue Flags for Salthill and Silverstrand.

Galway County Council receives 5 flags for Loughrea Lake, Trá Mhór Coill Rua, Trá an Doilín, Traught and Cill Muirbhithe. 1 flag was lost at Céibh an Spidéal due to non-compliance with the bathing water quality requirements.


Mayo County Council is in receipt of 12 Blue flags for Ross Killala, Elly Bay, Mullaghroe, Golden Strand, Dugort, Keem, Keel, Dooega, Clare Island, Mulranny, Bertra and Carrowmore.

An application was not received for Old Head.


Sligo County Council retains the Blue Flag for Rosses Point, and Enniscrone.


Mullaghmore could not be awarded the Blue Flag due to the lack of lifeguarding at the beach and due to the continued issues regarding safety with livestock on the beach.



Bundoran Town Council retained the Blue Flag for its beach at Bundoran.

Donegal County Council retained Blue Flags flags for Rossnowlagh, Murvagh, Fintra, Naran Portnoo, Carrickfinn, Killahoey, Marblehill, Downings, Portsalon Magherawarden, Lisfannon, Culdaff and Stroove.



The marinas awarded for 2011 are:

Westmeath: Killinure Point Marina, Glasson. This marina is managed by the Quigley’s and Waveline. It is located on the inner lakes of Lough Ree on the Shannon.

 Wexford: Kilmore Quay Marina is operated by Wexford County Council and is our only coastal Blue Flag marina.

New Ross “Three Sisters Marina”. This marina is managed by New Ross Town Council and is located on the banks of the River Barrow.

The Royal Cork Yacht Club is located in Cork Harbour on the Owenabue River. The club is managed and run by its executive committee.


List of Blue Flag Awarded beaches and marinas 2013

County Beach

DLR Killiney

DLR Seapoint

Mayo Ross Killala

Mayo Elly Bay

Mayo Mullaghroe

Mayo Golden Strand

Mayo Dugort

Mayo Keem

Mayo Keel

Mayo Dooega

Mayo Clare Island

Mayo Mulranny

Mayo Bertra

Mayo Carrowmore

Clare Cappagh Pier

Clare Kilkee

Clare Doonbeg

Clare Fanore

Clare Ballycuggeran

Clare Mountshannon

Donegal Bundoran

Donegal Rossnowlagh

Donegal Murvagh

Donegal Fintra

Donegal Naran Portnoo

Donegal Carrickfinn

Donegal Killahoey

Donegal Marblehill

Donegal Downings

Donegal Portsalon Magherawarden

Donegal Lisfannon

Donegal Culdaff

Donegal Stroove

Sligo Enniscrone

Sligo Rosses Point

Galway County Cill Mhuirbhigh

Galway County Trá an Dóilin

Galway County Trá Mhór

Galway County Traught

Galway County Loughrea Lake

Galway City Silver Strand

Galway City Salthill

Kerry Ballybunnion South

Kerry Ballyheigue

Kerry Banna

Kerry Fenit

Kerry Magherabeg

Kerry Ventry

Kerry Inch

Kerry Rossbeigh

Kerry Kells

Kerry Whitestrand

Kerry Ballinskelligs

Kerry Derrynane

Cork Tragumna

Cork Owenahincha

Cork The Warren

Cork Inchdoney

Cork Garrylucas

Waterford Clonea

Waterford Tramore

Wexford Rosslare

Wexford Curracloe

Wexford Courtown

Wicklow Brittas Bay South

Wicklow Brittas Bay North

Wicklow Greystones

Louth Clogherhead

Louth Port

Louth Templetown

County Marina

Westmeath Killinure Marina

Wexford Kilmore Quay

Wexford New Ross Marina

Cork The Royal Cork Yacht Club



LOUTH – None

No applications for GCA.

MEATH – None

1 GCA application received however not awarded as it did not meet the bathing water requirements.


Fingal County Council: Fingal has been unsuccessful in the GCA award for the 2013 season. Awards were lost at Balcarrick, The Brook Beach Portrane, Skerries South Beach and The Velvet Strand. These beaches were unsuccessful as they did not comply with the bathing water quality requirements. An application was not received for Malahide beach in respect of the 2013 season.

Dublin City: An application was not received for Dollymount.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council: No applications for GCA.


1 application was received for Arklow South beach however the beach did not meet the requirements for bathing water quality due to insufficient samples numbers.


Wexford County Council retained GCAs for 2013 at Ballinesker, Cahore, Culleton’s Gap and Old Bawn. Applications were also received for Cullenstown Beach and Ballymoney but were unsuccessful due to non-compliance with bathing water quality requirements.


Waterford County Council has been successful in receiving the GCA award for Ballyquin, Curragh, Goat Island, Guillamene and Newtown Cove. The award has been regained at Newtown Cove for the 2013 season. Newtown Cove was last awarded in 2011.


Cork County Council receives 9 GCA awards for Adnahinch, Ballyrisode, Dooneen Pier, Galley Cove, Garnish, Inch, Oysterhaven, Ring and Rocky Bay.

No application was received for Garryvoe or Fountainstown. A new application was received for East Beach Inchydoney however the beach was not awarded as it did not meet the criteria in relation to sample numbers. An application was also received for Red Strand however it was unsuccessful due to non-compliance with the bathing water quality requirement.


Kerry County Council retained the GCA for Béal Bán.

CLARE – None


Galway City Council retained the GCA for Salthill and Silver Strand.

Galway County Council retained their 6 GCA’s for Aillebrack, Dogs Bay, Dumhach Beach, East End Inisbofin, Renvyl and Tra Inis Oirr.


Mayo County Council receives 7 GCA’s for Carrowniskey, Cross Belmullet, Cross Louisburgh, Portacloy, Srah, Termon and Whitestrand. Cross, Louisburgh re-enters the Green Coast Award programme for the 2013 season. An application was received for Silverstrand, however was unsuccessful as it did not meet the requirements for bathing water quality.


Sligo County Council has retained its 5 GCAs for Dunmoran strand, Enniscrone, Rosses point, Streedagh and Mullaghmore.


Donegal County Council received GCAs for Ballyhernan, Dooey Beach, Drumnatinney, Magheroarty, Port Arthur and Rathmullan.

Ladies Bay was unsuccessful in its application as it did not meeting the bathing water quality requirements.

List of Green Coasts Awarded beaches 2013

County Beach

Cork Ardnahinch

Cork Ballyrisode

Cork Dooneen Pier

Cork Galley Cove

Cork Garnish

Cork Inch

Cork Oysterhaven

Cork Ring

Cork Rocky Bay

Donegal Ballyhernan

Donegal Dooey Beach

Donegal Drumnatinney

Donegal Magheroarty

Donegal Port Arthur

Donegal Rathmullan

Galway County Aillebrack

Galway County Dog’s Bay

Galway County Dumhach Beach

Galway County East End Inisbofin

Galway County Renvyl

Galway County Tra Inis Oirr

Galway City Salthill

Galway City Silver Strand

Kerry Beal Ban

Mayo Carrowniskey

Mayo Cross, Belmullet

Mayo Cross, Louisburgh

Mayo Portacloy

Mayo Srah

Mayo Termon

Mayo Whitestrand

Sligo Dunmoran Strand

Sligo Enniscrone

Sligo Mullaghmore

Sligo Rosses Point

Sligo Streedagh

Waterford Ballyquin

Waterford Curragh

Waterford Goat Island

Waterford Guillamene

Waterford Newtown Cove

Wexford Ballinesker

Wexford Cahore

Wexford Culleton’s Gap

Wexford Old Bawn


Online Editors