independent

Friday 20 July 2018

A good week for our beaches

Disappointment however remains that the county has just one Blue Flag beach at Rosses Point

Micheál Ó Domhnaill

In this time of plastics and pollution, it was great to see so many people giving their time during the past week on the Clean Coast initiative which ran from June 1st-10th.

Co-ordinated by An Taisce, this initiative is a chance for local communities to get together to clean up their local beaches so that they can be enjoyed throughout the Summer months and beyond.

Not only were there clean-up operations in place, but the week also saw different free events taking place on the beaches in Sligo, from walks to yoga classes and trail walking and more besides.

Enniscrone Beach had a yoga session, which was followed up by a beach clean, Strandhill had a comedy night which followed their own clean up, and various trail walking events were organised at different beaches as part of the local clean up.

Around the country, in excess of 300 events were organised by local groups ranging from photo competitions to seaweed foraging to meditation, showing the variety of activities that can take place on our beaches and around our coasts.

Behind all of the fun is of course a serious message, that of changing people's habits, in particular in relation to single use plastics and other items of rubbish which are polluting our seas, which cause serious environmental damage, and which invariably get washed up on beaches.

On that point it has raised a few eyebrows that the Clean Coast initiative is sponsored by Coca-Cola, one of the major producers of single use plastics.

No doubt the people at An Taisce see this as an opportunity to get multinationals like Coca-Cola to take more responsibility in terms of their packaging and to hopefully take this matter more seriously.

Let's hope that by having them as part of the conversation that this will lead to raising awareness of environmental issues and finding alternatives to the current use of disposable packaging which ends up being washed up on beaches.

Our beaches are a hugely important amenity, not just for those of us lucky enough to live in Sligo, where we can enjoy walking and swimming year round (yes swimming!), but they are also great assets to draw tourists to the region.

Unfortunately it remains disappointing that of all of the beautiful beaches we have in Sligo, we have just one Blue Flag beach, Rosses Point.

Compare that with neighbouring counties Mayo - who have 12 and Donegal - 13, and we see how much catch up we need to do.

Only a decade or so ago, Sligo had three Blue Flag beaches, including Mullaghmore and Enniscrone, and hopefully if all of the relevant authorities, stakeholders and local groups get together, we can reverse the trend and improve the quality of our beaches for all who visit them.

And so to some of the best beach walks in Sligo. The SligoWalks.ie website lists 12 different coastal and beach walks throughout Sligo, ranging from beaches like Dunmoran, Streedagh, Mullaghmore, and Rosses Point. All of these beaches are stunning - indeed several of them carry the Green Coast award, which means that although there may be limited parking, they do have wonderful water quality and pristine white sand.

Then there are coastal walks like the cliff walk at Aughris, the dunes at Strandhill, the coastal walk at Easkey and the forest walk at Lissadell, all of which have wonderful sea views, clearly marked trails, and plenty of spots for the family to stop for a picnic or ice cream. Just make sure you bring home your rubbish and dispose of it in the correct way. For information on all of the coastal and beach walks in Sligo, visit SligoWalks.ie.

Sligo Champion

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