Full list of the 88 Irish blue flag beaches in 2017

Some 88 Irish beaches awarded blue flags this year, three more than last year

The beach near Dooagh village on Achill Island was washed away in 1984 but over the past few weeks has returned, to the joy of local people and holidaymakers. Video: Sean Molloy


Two of Dublin’s most popular beaches have lost their prestigious blue flags.

Killiney and Donabate beaches did not retain their blue flags for the coming season.

A blue flag standard is an international award – operated in Ireland by An Taisce – which recognises outstanding compliance with sewage treatment and bathing water quality criteria. It was awarded to 88 Irish beaches or marinas for this year, three more than in 2016.

Killiney did not apply for blue flag designation this year. It would not have been awarded it in any case due to a drop in annual bathing water classification from excellent to good. Blue flag beaches must have excellent bathing water.

Similarly, Donabate was not awarded a blue flag for the same reason. Neither was Lisfarron in Co Donegal.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown councillor John Bailey said it was “a disgrace” that Killiney beach had lost its blue flag.

“We have spent a lot of money trying to tidy it up and we have also spent on the dog situation down there,” the Fine Gael councillor said. “Killiney beach is used throughout the summer and all during the winter, for walking and for swimming. The council have to get this right – an awful lot of children use it for swimming, it’s a very well used beach.”

Blue flags 2017

Fingal councillor Jimmy Guerin said he was “very disappointed” Donabate beach had lost its blue flag and that it would likely have an impact on tourism in the area. “I know there were a number of issues throughout the year that the council were trying to address. It’s very important, where possible, to try and retain our blue flags. To lose one, it’s not good for us, it’s not good for tourism in the area,” the Independent councillor said.

Six beaches or marinas have either been awarded a blue flag for the first time or have regained a blue flag they had lost.

Portumna, an inland marina in Co Galway, and Greencastle Marina in Co Donegal have won blue flags for the first time; Bray South Promenade has regained the blue flag status it lost in 2000. Redbarn and Garretstown in Cork and Ross in Co Mayo regained the blue flag status they lost in 2015.

Sixty one beaches have won green coast awards, a record. These were first awarded in 2003 and rolled out nationally in 2008.

The award recognises beaches for their clean environment, excellent water quality and natural beauty.

The number of beaches receiving green coast awards is up by five on last year, with Castlegregory, Waterville and Ballinskelligs in Co Kerry receiving awards for the first time. Fountainstown and Rocky Bay have regained the award for 2017 and Cullenstown Strand in Co Wexford has been awarded it for the first time since 2011.

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

The county with the most blue flags is Co Kerry with 13 beaches and one marina. The county receiving the most green coast awards is Co Cork with 12.

The awards were presented at the Royal Cork Yacht Club in Crosshaven, Co Cork yesterday afternoon.

Speaking at the ceremony, Senator Jerry Buttimer said the blue flag has become “a truly global symbol” with an increasing number of countries participating in the programme every year.

“The programme promotes sustainable development in freshwater and marine areas and challenges local authorities and beach operators to achieve high standards in water quality, environmental education and safety,” he said.