THREE Louth beaches are among a record number of beaches in Ireland to have received prestigious International Blue Flag awards this year.
Blue Flags were awarded to 82 beaches and two marinas, including Louth’s Shellinghill/Templetown, Clogherhead and Port.
Located north of Dundalk Shellinghill/Templetown, called after the crusading “Knights Templar”, fronts one of Louth’s most popular stretch of coastline.
Protected on each side by a low level rock promontory, its smooth safe sands makes it a popular destination for locals and day trippers.
The sand and shingle beach faces southward and is manned by lifeguards during the bathing season (lifeguard patrol times are posted on the information noticeboard located at the beach).
Eight new beaches received Blue Flags compared to last year’s figures after meeting strict standards of cleanliness, water quality and management.
According to An Taisce, the national trust that operates the awards system in Ireland, the increase is a recognition that Irish beaches are getting cleaner.
The awards were announced by An Taisce on Wednesday, June 8 and presented by Environment Minister Phil Hogan at an awards ceremony on Curracloe Beach, Co Wexford.
“Behind each of the 84 recipients lies a team of people who worked extremely hard to make the grade and to each and every one of them I extend my sincere congratulations,” he said.
“This increase is very welcome and is due to the combined efforts of the local authorities and coastal communities on the ground as well as those in the wider catchment who are playing their part in working to improve water quality.”
Kerry and Mayo tie for first place with 13 Blue Flag beaches each, followed by Donegal with 12, Cork with 11 and Galway and Clare with eight apiece. A further 58 beaches received National Green Coast Awards, a new programme.