Blue Flags 2024: Beaches in Dublin, Wexford and Waterford lose out. Check how your local area fared

Beaches in Sligo, Meath and Galway gain flags while Rush South, Tramore and Ballymoney North lose awards due to deterioration of water quality

A total of 94 Irish beaches and marinas have been awarded a blue flag for the 2024 bathing season by the environmental group An Taisce.

While 82 out of 85 beaches retained their blue flag from 2023, Rush South beach in Fingal, Co Dublin; Ballymoney North beach, Co Wexford; and Tramore, Co Waterford lost out.

The blue flag programme requires that beaches being awarded for the upcoming season have achieved “excellent” bathing water quality in the most recent annual classification.

Rush and Tramore failed because of a deterioration of water quality due to the presence of intestinal enterococci bacteria, while Ballymoney failed due to the presence of E.coli.


Presence of bacteria is likely to have been caused by wastewater overflows; ‘misconnections’ – sewage going into surface water drains rather than sewers; agricultural run-off; faulty septic tanks or dog fouling.

The current annual classification of all three beaches, however, is “good”, the next best classification, based on analysis of results of in-season water samples taken between 2020 and 2023.

A record-breaking 70 beaches receive the green coast award for 2024. This award recognises beaches for their clean environment, excellent water quality and natural beauty. Such sites are classified as exceptional places to visit and enjoy Ireland’s rich coastal heritage and diversity.

Three beaches not awarded blue flags in 2023 have been awarded them for the coming bathing season; Bettystown beach, Co Meath; Enniscrone Beach, Co Sligo; and Traught in Kinvara, Co Galway.

Ten marinas were awarded a blue flag in 2023, and nine of these retained it for this year. Greencastle marina was withdrawn by Donegal County Council in July 2023 as construction works at the harbour on a breakwater necessitated closure of the seasonal marina there.

Ten beaches have been awarded both the blue flag and green coast award: Fountainstown and Inchydoney East beach in Co Cork; Balcarrick, Donabate in Fingal; Salthill and Silverstrand beaches in Galway City; Trá Inis Oírr (main beach) in Co Galway; Baile an Sceilg, in Co Kerry; Bettystown beach in Co Meath; and Enniscrone and Rosses Point beach in Sligo.

One of the world’s most recognised eco-labels, the blue flag programme aims to raise environmental awareness and promote sound environmental management of beaches, marinas and eco-tourism boats around the globe.

The green coast awards recognise the work of coastal groups, which are comprised of thousands of volunteers who participate in community clean-ups.

The green coast award is operated by An Taisce with support from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and Fáilte Ireland.

The 2024 awards were presented by Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton at a ceremony held in Galway overlooking Salthill blue flag beach on Monday.

“As we get warmed up for the bathing and swimming season this year we are breaking the record with some 70 beaches receiving the green coast award. We all know just how lucky we are to have such beautiful water quality and natural beauty across our shores and this year’s recipients are testament to just how exceptional and rich in diversity that our beaches are,” she said.

Cathy Baxter, director of An Taisce’s environmental education unit, said the local authorities, marina operators and clean-coasts groups responsible for their management “have worked tirelessly to ensure that these sites meet the excellent standards required by the blue flag and green coast award”.

The green coast programme aims to raise environmental awareness and promote sound environmental management of beaches, marinas and eco-tourism boats around the world.

The beaches and marinas that have achieved this accolade must adhere to specific criteria on water quality, information provision, environmental education, safety and site management for the duration of the bathing season.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times