The beautiful bracing beaches of Donegal have come up trumps again with the news that the county has secured international blue flag status for its top twelve beaches, making it one of the most attractive places in Ireland to visit.
Donegal has been awarded 12 flags, which is the third highest award in the country after Mayo and Kerry, who both received 13. The Blue Flags have been awarded to Murvagh, Rossnowlagh, Fintra, Narin, Carrickfinn, Marble Hill, Lisfannon (Fahan), Magherawarden (Portsalon), Killahoey (Dunfanaghy), Shroove, Culdaff and Bundoran (which is under the control of Bundoran Town Council).
The Blue Flag is one of the world’s most recognised environmental awards. The successful beaches meet a specific set of criteria related to water quality, information provision, environmental education and beach management. As a pre-requisite, the bathing water at Blue Flag beaches must meet the highest standards of bathing water quality.
Welcoming the good news for Donegal, a spokesperson for Donegal County Council told the Democrat/DPP:
“The Council invests substantial money, time and effort to keep all the Blue Flag beaches, and other beaches in the county, safe and free of litter during the summer season. However, some bathing areas are subjected to pressure due to vandalism, littering and other impacts, which the public has direct control over.”
Newly elected Mayor of Bundoran, Cllr Michael McMahon welcomed Bundoran’s award: “This is a big endorsement of all the good things that we are doing in Bundoran. It is the mark of approval by which all beaches are now judged and I am glad that we continue to make that very high standard.”
The Blue Flag is administered in Ireland by An Taisce on behalf of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). Blue Flag beaches are judged against a total of 32 criteria. All award schemes use water quality information from samples taken in line with the EU Bathing Water Directive.
The Blue Flag is one of the world’s most recognised eco-labels. The 82 Irish beaches and 2 marinas that have achieved this accolade met a specific set of criteria related to water quality, information provision, environmental education and beach management. As a pre-requisite, the bathing water at Blue Flag beaches must meet the highest standards of bathing water quality.
But it was not all good news for the North West. Mullaghmore in Sligo could not be awarded the Blue Flag as there were ongoing issues where livestock are roaming on the main beach area creating an unsafe environment for beach users.
Tra Leadbh Garbh in Donegal lost its Green Coast Award, another nationwide award scheme as it did not comply with water quality requirements.
Patricia Oliver, Director, An Taisce said, “ The continuing high standards of our beaches are testament to the hard work carried out by Local Authorities throughout the year in order to provide clean and safe beaches for everyone to enjoy. I would also like to commend the many Coastcare groups that participate in caring for Ireland’s fantastic beaches through community clean-ups and coastal enhancement projects such as marram grass planting.”
AA maps show all the award winning beaches with descriptions, directions, facilities and pictures can be found at www.beachawards.ie.