Blue Flag beaches 2020: Ballybunion north beach loses status

Baginbunin in Wexford and Carrigahold in Clare are awarded first Green Coast awards

Ballybunion North beach in Co Kerry has failed to retain its blue flag status in 2020 due to a deteroiation in its water quality.

Beaches are required to have excellent water quality to qualify for the flag, but the rating for Ballybunnion deteriorated slightly to ‘good’ based on the analysis of in-season water quality samples taken between 2016 and 2019, a report published on Tuesday found.

In all, there were 90 Blue Flags and 60 Green Coast Awards awarded this year by An Taisce.

The Blue Flag programme aims to raise environmental awareness and promote sound environmental management of beaches, marinas and inland bathing waters around the world, while the Green Coast Award recognises beaches for their clean environment, water quality and natural beauty.


Two beaches were initially awarded a Blue Flag but will not be flying them this summer.

Due to lower than normal beach sand levels, Wexford County Council has withdrawn the Blue Flag awarded to Courtown beach for the time being.

And in Co Galway, as a result of restrictions in place to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, it was not possible to put a lifeguard service in place for Cill Mhuirbhigh, on Inis Mór for the bathing season.

“The National Blue Flag jury felt it was very unfortunate that Cill Mhuirbighcould not fly the Blue Flag that had been awarded to the site at this time,as a result of the unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves in.”

The 80 Irish beaches and 10 marinas awarded a blue flag for this year must adhere tospecific criteria on water quality, information, environmental education, safety and site management.

Two beaches; Baginbunin in Co Wexford and Carrigahold in Co Clare, were awarded the Green Coast Award in 2020 for the first time.

Mornington beach in County Meath regained its Green Coast Award status having last held the award in 2017.

Meanwhile, four sites awarded Green Coast status last year did not retain this for 2020.

Arklow beach in Co Wicklow did not meet the required water quality to obtain Green Coast Award status this year, while in-season water quality testing at Dumhach Beach and East End Bay, both on Inisbofin, could not be carried out as a result of restrictions relating to Covid-19.

Trá Inis Oirrcould not be awarded the statusdue to the absence of an in-season lifeguard service.

However, the jury added that in light of the potential for changes to restrictions currently in place, if all criteria could be met at a later point in the summer, it may be possible to award these sites during the 2020 season.

Five beaches achieved dual award status, including Portmarnock in Fingal, Salthill and Silver Strand in Co Galway, Rosses Point in Co Sligo and Ballinskelligs in Kerry.

These sites have fulfilled all Blue Flag criteria relating to water quality, facilities for visitors, beach management, environmental education and the provision of information, while also fulfilling the Green Coast Award requirement of community involvement in the management of the site, the judges said.

Announcing the awards, Ian Diamond, Coastal Awards Manager with An Taisce's Environmental Education Unit, said it is important to bear in mind the "additional pressure" being put on local authorities to manage beaches during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“ With unprecedented numbers forced to stay at home for the past few months from work and school we must be cognisant ofthe challenges facing those managing our beaches,” Mr Diamond said.

“ In the same manner as we have all worked together against Covid-19 we must all exercise personal responsibility to enjoy our beaches in a safe and sustainable way.”

Full list of Blue Flag beaches for 2020

Louth County Council Shellinghill/Templetown - Beach

Louth County Council Port/Lurganboy - Beach

Louth County Council Clogherhead - Beach

Fingal County Council Portmarnock/Velvet Strand - Beach

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council Seapoint - Beach

Wicklow County Council Bray South Promenade - Beach

Wicklow County Council Greystones - Beach

Wicklow County Council Brittas Bay North - Beach

Wicklow County Council Brittas Bay South - Beach

Wexford County Council Ballymoney North Beach - Beach

Wexford County Council Morriscastle - Beach

Wexford County Council Ballinesker - Beach

Wexford County Council Curracloe - Beach

Wexford County Council Rosslare - Beach

Wexford County Council Carne - Beach

Waterford County Council Councillors Strand Dunmore East - Beach

Waterford County Council Dunmore Strand - Beach

Waterford County Council Tramore - Beach

Waterford County Council Clonea - Beach

Waterford County Council Ardmore - Beach

Cork County Council Youghal Claycastle - Beach

Cork County Council Redbarn Beach - Beach

Cork County Council Garrylucas - Beach

Cork County Council Garretstown - Beach

Cork County Council Inchydoney - Beach

Cork County Council Owenahincha - Beach

Cork County Council Tragumna - Beach

Cork County Council Barleycove - Beach

Kerry County Council Derrynane - Beach

Kerry County Council Ballinskelligs - Beach

Kerry County Council White Strand Caherciveen - Beach

Kerry County Council Kells -Beach

Kerry County Council Rossbeigh - Beach

Kerry County Council Inch - Beach

Kerry County Council Ventry - Beach

Kerry County Council Magherabeg - Beach

Kerry County Council Banna - Beach

Kerry County Council Ballyheigue - Beach

Kerry County Council Ballybunion South - Beach

Clare County Council Cappa Pier - Beach

Clare County Council Kilkee - Beach

Clare County Council White Strand Doonbeg - Beach

Clare County Council Spanish Point - Beach

Kerry County Council Fenit - Beach

Clare County Council White Strand Miltown Malbay - Beach

Clare County Council Lahinch - Beach

Clare County Council Fanore - Beach

Clare County Council Ballycuggeran (Killaloe) - Beach

Clare County Council Mountshannon - Beach

Galway County Council Portumna - Beach

Galway County Council Loughrea Lake - Beach

Galway County Council Traught - Beach

Galway City Council Salthill - Beach

Mayo County Council Bertra - Beach

Galway City Council Silverstrand - Beach

Galway County Council An Trá Mhór (Inverin) - Beach

Galway County Council Trá an Dóilin (An Cheathrú Rua) - Beach

Mayo County Council Carrowmore - Beach

Mayo County Council Clare Island - Beach

Mayo County Council Mulranny - Beach

Mayo County Council Dooega - Beach

Mayo County Council Keel - Beach

Mayo County Council Keem - Beach

Mayo County Council Silverstrand Dugort - Beach

Mayo County Council Mullaghroe - Beach

Mayo County Council Elly Bay - Beach

Mayo County Council Ross Killala - Beach

Sligo County Council Rosses Point - Beach

Donegal County Council Bundoran - Beach

Donegal County Council Rossnowlagh - Beach

Donegal County Council Murvagh - Beach

Donegal County Council Fintra - Beach

Donegal County Council Portnoo /Narin - Beach

Donegal County Council Carrickfinn - Beach

Donegal County Council Killahoey - Beach

Donegal County Council Marblehill - Beach

Donegal County Council Downings - Beach

Donegal County Council Magherawarden (Portsalon) - Beach

Donegal County Council Culdaff - Beach

Donegal County Council Stroove - Beach

Donegal County Council Greencastle - Marina

Donegal County Council Rathmullan - Marina

Kerry County Council Fenit - Marina

Kilrush Maritime Ltd Kilrush Marina, Kilrush, Co Clare - Marina

Kilrush Maritime Ltd Portmagee Seasonal Visitors Pontoons, Portmagee, Co Kerry - Marina

Kinsale Yacht Club Kinsale Yacht Club - Marina

Royal Cork Yacht club The Royal Cork Yacht Club - Marina

Wexford County Council Kilmore Quay - Marina

Wexford County Council New Ross - Marina

Quigleys Marina, Killinure Point, Co Westmeath - Marina

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is Health Correspondent of The Irish Times

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