Blue Flag and Green Coast Award recipients announced for 2024

May 21 2024, 10:52am

AMCM_240520_9523 Blue Flag 2024

On Monday 20 May, An Taisce announced the International Blue Flag and Green Coast Award recipients for 2024. The awards were presented by Minister Hildegarde Naughton, Government Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Department of Education, at a ceremony held in the Galway Bay Hotel overlooking Salthill Blue Flag beach.

Speaking at the awards ceremony Minister Naughton congratulated all of the recipients of International Blue Flags and Green Coast Awards. For Ireland to be the home of 94 Blue Flags across the length and breadth of our beautiful beaches and marinas. She said that as a Galway Minister she is particularly proud to see the return of the Blue Flag to one of her own local swimming spots, Traught Beach in Kinvara. She also commended the scale of the awards with 94 Blue Flags now waving across the lengdth and breadth of the beaches and marinas of Ireland. 

Minister Naughton also acknowledged the record number of 70 beaches receiving the Green Coast Award, highlighting how lucky we are to have such beautiful water quality and natural beauty across our shores. She said that this year’s recipients are testament to just how exceptional and rich in diversity that our beaches are.

Cathy Baxter, Director of the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce, said, “We were delighted to be welcomed to Salthill, a Blue Flag and Green Coast Award beach for many years, for the opportunity to celebrate the beaches and marinas awarded for the 2024 season. 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. I would like to congratulate all the awardees on their success, and to thank Galway City Council for hosting us here today.”

Blue Flag

The Blue Flag is one of the world’s most recognised environmental awards. Originating in France in 1985 it was launched as an International programme as part of the European Year of the Environment in 1987. In 1988, the first year sites were awarded outside of France 19 beaches and two marinas received the Blue Flag in Ireland. 2024 is the 37th year that beaches and marinas have been awarded here in Ireland, with 94 beaches and marinas being awarded for the 2024 season.

The programme aims to raise environmental awareness and promote sound environmental management of beaches, marinas and eco-tourism boats around the world. The 85 Irish beaches and
nine marinas that have achieved this accolade must adhere to specific criteria related to water quality, information provision, environmental education, safety and site management for the duration of the bathing season.

Blue Flag 2024 in numbers

There are 85 Beaches and nine marinas awarded the Blue Flag for 2024. 

Three beaches not awarded in 2023 have been awarded for the coming bathing season. These are Bettystown Beach, Enniscrone Beach and Traught in Kinvara.

Bettystown Beach in Meath has been awarded a Blue Flag for the first time since 1996.

Enniscrone in Sligo is being awarded for the first time since 2014.

Traught has regained Blue Flag status last held in 2021.

82 of the 85 beaches awarded in 2023 have retained Blue Flag status for the 2024 bathing season.

The three beaches, awarded in 2023 that have not been awarded for the 2024 season are Rush South Beach in Fingal, Ballymoney North Beach in Wexford and Tramore in Waterford.

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. Each of the
sites received a classification of “Good”, the second highest classification available based on analysis of bathing water samples over the past four bathing seasons.

10 marinas were awarded a Blue Flag in Ireland in 2023, nine of these have retained Blue Flag status for the coming season.

The Blue Flag awarded to Greencastle Marina in 2023 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. There was no application for Greencastle Marina for 2024.

An Taisce – The National Trust for Ireland is responsible for the operation of the Blue Flag programme in Ireland on behalf of the Foundation of Environmental Education (FEE). 48 Countries
operate the Blue Flag programme globally and more than 5000 beaches, marinas and tourism boats will be awarded the Blue Flag this year. The Blue Flag programme in Ireland is supported by the
Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

The Green Coast Award

A record-breaking 70 Beaches have received the Green Coast Award for the 2024 Bathing Season.  The Green Coast Award recognises beaches for their clean environment, excellent water quality and natural beauty. Green Coast Award sites are exceptional places to visit and enjoy our rich coastal heritage and diversity.

An important aspect of the Green Coast Awards is the involvement of voluntary Clean Coasts groups, who participate in community clean-ups and help manage the applicant beaches in cooperation with Local Authorities. The main purpose of the Green Coast Award programme is to foster partnerships within communities in an effort to protect and enhance local coastal environs, and to celebrate the efforts of those communities.

The first Green Coast Awards were presented to four beaches in Wexford in 2003. The award was rolled out nationally in 2008 and has gone from strength to strength ever since.The 2024 season sees a record breaking 70 beaches being awarded the Green Coast Award. This is an increase of four awards compared to last year.

Green Coast Award 2024 in numbers:

70 sites awarded, four more than 2023.
Five sites were not awarded in 2023 and get the flag in 2024, these are: Quilty Beach, Seafield, Co. Clare; Cross, Louisburgh; Portacloy; Enniscrone Beach and Arklow South Beach.  Quilty Beach in Co. Clare is being awarded a Green Coast Award for the first time. Cross Louisburgh is being awarded for the first time since 2013. Enniscrone is being awarded for the first time since 2014

10 beaches have been awarded both The Blue Flag and Green Coast Award for the 2024 season, these beaches are: Fountainstown and Inchydoney East Beach in Co. Cork;
Balcarrick, Donabate in Fingal; Salthill and Silverstrand Beaches in Galway City; Trá Inis Oirr (Main Beach) in Co. Galway; Baile an Sceilg, in Co. Kerry; Bettystown Beach in Co. Meath;
Enniscrone and Rosses Point Beach in Sligo. 

In the Republic of Ireland the Green Coast Award is operated by An Taisce with the support of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and Fáilte Ireland.