Nine Clare beaches have been awarded the prestigious International Blue Flag from An Taisce.
Lahinch, Kilkee, Whitestrand Miltown Malbay, Ballycuggeran, Cappa, Fanore, Spanish Point, Mountshannon and Whitestrand Doonbeg all retained their Blue Flag status.
Green Coast Awards were also awarded for the second year running to the beaches at Bishops Quarter (Ballyvaughan), Seafield (Quilty) and Ballyalla Lake.
Cllr Tom McNamara, Clare McGrath, Clare Water Safety Development Officer, and Cyril Feeney, Senior Executive Engineer, Physical Development accepted the Blue Flag and Green Coast Awards on behalf of Clare County Council at a ceremony held at the Martello Hotel in Bray, Co. Wickow.
Mayor of Clare, Councillor Tom McNamara, said Clare’s strong performance in the Blue Flag scheme and the Green Coast Awards reflects the number of quality beaches that are available to people living in Clare and those visiting the County.
Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council, acknowledged the role played by Council staff, coastal communities and visitors to Clare’s beaches in helping the county retain all 9 Blue Flags and 3 Green Coast Awards. “Beaches and marinas play an important part in the lives of our coastal communities as they provide a variety of recreational opportunities as well as make a significant contribution to the local economy. Clare’s Blue Flag and Green Coast successes will help to inform visitors to the county that they can expect to find clean and safe environments when visiting these bathing areas”.
Clare McGrath, Clare Water Safety Development Officer, stated, “All of Clare’s main bathing areas are being applauded by An Taisce as places that are clean, well managed, and safe. Flying the flag indicates to visitors and local communities that these beaches are at the highest standards. They all have safety equipment, lifeguarded, risk assessed, first-aid and communications.”
The Blue Flag is a prestigious environmental eco-label awarded to over 4000 beaches and marinas in 49 countries across Europe, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada and the Caribbean. The award, which is operated in Ireland by An Taisce on behalf of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) – represents high standards in water quality, environmental information and education, environmental management and safety, services and facilities.
The Green Coast Award recognises beaches for their clean environment, excellent water quality and natural beauty and is targeted at beaches that may not have the necessary built infrastructure required to meet the criteria set for Blue Flag status. Bishops Quarter, Seafield and Ballyalla Lake were awarded by the Irish Green Coast Award Jury following bathing water quality tests and beach inspections carried out in 2017 and assessment of the beach management plans submitted by Clare County Council to An Taisce.
Meanwhile, lifeguard cover at Clare’s Blue Flag beaches commences during the June Bank Holiday Weekend (11.00am to 7.00pm). Cover will continue on Saturdays and Sundays during the month of June. There will be full-time time cover at these locations as well as at Bishops Quarter (Ballyvaughan) and Seafield Quilty during the months of July and August, and during the first three weekends of September.