Galway city and county has retained all of its five Blue Flags for this year as well as being awarded six Green Coast awards, five of which were retained from last year and a new one awarded to Trá gCaorach, Inis Oirr, for the first time.
An Taisce yesterday announced the International Blue Flag Award and the National Green Coast Award recipients for 2014. A total of 134 awards were presented by the Minister for the Environment, Community, and Local Government, Phil Hogan, at an awards ceremony held on Skerries south beach in north county Dublin.
The prestigious Blue Flag was awarded to 76 beaches and four marinas, representing an increase in six Blue Flags nationwide since last year. Galway county retained five Blue Flags at Traught, Cill Mhuirbhigh, Loughrea, Tra an Doilin, and Tra Mhor, Indreabhan, while Galway city retained two Blue Flags at Salthill and Silverstrand. According to Patricia Oliver, director of An Taisce’s environmental education unit, : “In order to be eligible for the Blue Flag a beach or marina must comply with strict criteria relating to water quality, safety, facilities for visitors, beach management including litter control, environmental education, and the provision of information.”
The Green Coast Award, which recognises beaches for their clean environment, excellent water quality, and natural beauty, was awarded to 54 beaches in Ireland. Galway county was awarded six Green Coast awards, retaining five since last year for Aillebrack, Dumhach, East End Inisbofin, Renvyle, and Trá Inis Oirr, and gaining one extra for Trá gCaorach, Inis Oirr. Unfortunately, Dog’s Bay has lost the Green Coast Award due to infrastructural damage to the access road as a result of the storms. Galway city retained two Green Coast awards for Salthill and Silverstrand. Regarding the Green Coast Award, Ms Oliver said: “These beaches may not have the necessary built infrastructure required to meet the criteria set for Blue Flag status however they are exceptional places to visit and enjoy our rich coastal heritage and diversity.”