Life's a beach! Co Meath beach back on Blue Flag list after almost three decades

Just in time for summer, Irish beaches and marinas have received a haul of 94 Blue Flags - and it's a major celebration for Bettystown Beach in Co. Meath as it has been awarded the internationally recognised accolades for the first time in almost three decades.

Ireland's total of 94 Blue Flags included 85 for beaches and nine for marinas, and there was a record 70 Green Coast awards.

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A vigorous local campaign had been held to restore the coveted prize for Bettystown Beach, which boasts 5km of sand, and which last held a Blue Flag in 1996. As part of their clean-up efforts, councillors had voted for restrictions on the use of the beach by dogs on a section between 11am and 7pm, from June to September.

life's a beach! co meath beach back on blue flag list after almost three decades

Bettystown Beach. Pic: Shutterstock

Also rewarded for their cleanliness and safety were Enniscrone in Co. Sligo, which has a Blue Flag for the first time since 2014, and Traught Beach in Co. Galway, which regained the Blue Flag status it last held in 2021.

The awards were presented by Government Chief Whip Hildegarde Naughton TD at a ceremony overlooking the Salthill Blue Flag beach in Galway on Monday. She said Ireland was now the home of 94 Blue Flags ‘across the length and breadth of our beautiful beaches and marinas’.

As a Galway minister, I am particularly proud to see the return of the Blue Flag to one of my own local swimming spots, Traught Beach in Kinvara; I know that this will be of particular note and celebration for many Galway swimmers,’ she said.

life's a beach! co meath beach back on blue flag list after almost three decades

Traught Beach. Pic: Shutterstock

The Green Coast Award recognises beaches for their clean environment, excellent water quality and natural beauty. The Blue Flag is one of the world’s most recognised environmental awards. It originated in France in 1985, and in 1988 – the first year sites were awarded outside of that country – 19 beaches and two marinas received the Blue Flag in Ireland.

The programme aims to raise environmental awareness and management of beaches, marinas and eco-tourism boats around the world. Sites are judged on water quality, information provision, environmental education, safety and management for the duration of the bathing season.

More than 5,000 Blue Flags were awarded across 48 countries this year. A total of 82 Irish beaches retained their Blue Flag status for the 2024 bathing season.

life's a beach! co meath beach back on blue flag list after almost three decades

Enniscrone Beach. Pic: Jksz.photography/Shutterstock

However, Rush South Beach in Dublin, Ballymoney North Beach in Wexford and Tramore in Waterford lost their Blue Flags.

A spokesperson for An Taisce, which organises the awards, said this was because their bathing water quality had been rated as good, but that it needed to be excellent to win.

life's a beach! co meath beach back on blue flag list after almost three decades

Rush South Beach. Pic: Derick P. Hudson/Shutterstock

The Blue Flag awarded to Greencastle Marina in 2023 was withdrawn by Donegal County Council last July 2023, when the marina was closed to allow for construction works. There was no application for this marina for 2024.

Seventy Irish beaches received the Green Coast Award for the 2024 bathing season – four more than last year. New winners of the Green Coast Award this year include Quilty Beach, Co. Clare; Cross, Louisburgh, Co. Mayo; Portacloy near Carrowteige, Co. Mayo; Enniscrone Beach, Co. Sligo and Arklow South Beach in Co. Wicklow.

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life's a beach! co meath beach back on blue flag list after almost three decades

Pic: Shutterstock

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