Housing minister Eoghan Murphy with Michael John O'Mahony of An Taisce at the launch of the Blue Flag awards Picture: Naoise Culhane
NINE beaches across Clare have retained their prestigious international Blue Flag status.
An Taisce awarded the Blue Flags to Whitestrand, Miltown Malbay, Ballycuggeran, Whitestrand Doonbeg, Mountshannon, Cappa, Fanore, Spanish Point, Kilkee and Lahinch.
Green Coast Awards were also awarded for the second year running to the beaches at Bishops Quarter (Ballyvaughan), Seafield (Quilty) and Ballyalla Lake.
The Blue Flag is a prestigious environmental eco-label awarded to over 4,000 beaches and marinas in 49 countries globally. 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 awards were accepted on behalf of Clare County Council by Councillor Tom McNamara, Mayor of Clare, Clare McGrath, Clare Water Safety Development Officer, and Cyril Feeney, Senior Executive Engineer, Physical Development, at a ceremony held at the Martello Hotel in Bray.
Councillor McNamara, said the strong performance 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 the 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,” he added.
Clare McGrath, Clare Water Safety Development Officer, said: “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.”
Clare County Council said lifeguard cover at Clare’s Blue Flag beaches commences during the June Bank Holiday weekend, 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 and Seafield Quilty during the months of July and August, and during the first three weekends of September, the authority said.