Champions of the environment win national honour

A triumvirate of marine champions has been recognised with national honours for efforts to keep the Kerry coast at its cleanest.

The Maharees Conservation Association, the Kerry Islamic Outreach Clean-Up group and siblings Evan, Alex and Dylan Nealon were all recognised as Ocean Heroes at the Clean Coasts' end-of-year event last month.

It came as a great achievement for Kerry among all counties honoured at the awards, in an appropriate haul given the fact we have one of the longest coastlines of any county.

Evan, Alex and Dylan were honoured as Youth of the Year, with both the Kerry Islamic and Maharees groups recognised for Beach Clean of the Year; the Maharees winning the Ocean Hero title for the clean-up it organised over a 12-km stretch of the fragile tombolo that saw an 'unprecedented' level of involvement from local groups, residents and businesses.

Evan, Alex and Dylan, along with the members of the two groups, were among 24,000 volunteers nationwide to have taken part in the Clean Coasts programme - Ireland's top community-based coastal education programme.

And in 2019 volunteers smashed all previous records in the Clean Coasts 13-year-long story, collecting more rubbish than ever before and returning collection zones to a far more natural state.

"2019 was an incredible year for Clean Coasts and our community has grown so much. We were delighted to have received so many inspirational nominations that show not only the true dedication of these coastal custodians, but also that their efforts don't go unnoticed by the community," Clean Coasts Manager Sinead McCoy said.