Inishowen has retained three Blue Flags for the 2023 summer bathing season, An Taisce announced last week.
However, in a new departure for 2023, dogs will be banned from Blue Flag beaches, including Shroove and Culdaff, from midday-7pm daily, starting on 1 June and running until 15 September.
The beaches at Shroove and Culdaff and Greencastle Marina are amongst 84 beaches and ten marinas across the Republic which were awarded the prestigious award, an internationally recognised symbol of high standards in water quality, environmental management and safety.
Dog fouling, which is commonplace on beaches around the country, has been identified as a source of pollution that can affect the strict water quality standards that top beaches must maintain, as well as pose a threat to human health.
In January, Donegal councillors unanimously approved new bye-laws forbidding dogs on the county’s dozen Blue Flag beaches.
The ban does not extend to assistance dogs or Garda dogs. Nor will the ban apply at beach car parks.
The bye-laws also require that dogs using a blue flag beach outside of the hours of 12-7pm be kept under control on a 2-metre long leash.
Shroove and Culdaff are amongst 12 beaches in Donegal to receive the coveted award for 2023.
Last summer, Donegal County Council failed to provide lifeguards to the two Inishowen beaches for long periods during June, July and August. Having lifeguards on patrol is a requirement for Blue Flag accreditation.
Greencastle Marina at the mouth of Lough Foyle was also awarded with a Blue Flag, one of just ten across the country to gain the honour.
Rathmullan Marina on Lough Swilly also received a Blue Flag.
“It takes immense dedication and effort to manage a beach or marina to meet the rigorous standards set by these prestigious award programmes,” An Taisce director Cathy Baxter said, “and we extend our warmest congratulations to all the deserving sites that have achieved this remarkable reward.”
Nationally, 81 of the 85 beaches and all 10 marinas awarded last year have retained Blue Flag status for the season 2023. Three additional sites, all from Mayo, are included in this year’s awards.
The busy beach at Lisfannon in Fahan, which held a Blue Flag for more than two decades before losing out in 2017 when water quality tests fell below permitted thresholds, remains out in the cold.
Donegal’s Blue Flag beaches are Carrickfin; Culdaff; Trá Beg (Downings); Fintra; Killahoey (Dunfanaghy); Marble Hill; Murvagh; Narin; Rossnowlagh (Belalt Strand); Stroove (White Bay); Portsalon (Warden Stocker Strand); and Bundoran.