Belfast Telegraph

Monday 2 May 2016

How a plea on Facebook inspired 43 volunteers to hit the beach ...and make it a lot cleaner

By Linda Stewart

Published 16/04/2013

Volunteer Ruairidh Morrison mucks in at Ballycastle
Volunteer Ruairidh Morrison mucks in at Ballycastle
Karen Leonard, Conall o hArtghaile, Ciaran McLernon, Conall McGill, Hollie Watson with Paul Johnston (front) from TIDY Northern Ireland, at the Ballycastle Beach Clean

Put the call out, and they will come.

That's the experience of Conall o hArtghaile who decided it was time to clean up the litter discarded along the beach at Ballycastle.

So he took to Facebook in search of volunteers for clean-up duties, posting the call to come and help. And the people came in their droves.

The clean-up was organised as part of the Big Spring Clean, the joint litter campaign by the Belfast Telegraph, Tidy NI and DoE Rethink Waste.

"For years there have been coastal clean-ups round Portrush but there was never one organised in Ballycastle. Moyle District Council and Ballycastle Community Development Group got together to organise a clean-up and we thought we'd put it out on Facebook and see how many people turned up," Conall said.

"Loads of people came – at the end of it there were 43 of us."

Conall lives close to the beach and walks and surfs there. He first got the idea to organise the beach clean when he was inspired by Surfers Against Sewage.

The crew gathered more than 50 bags of rubbish, including shotgun shells, fishing wire, golf balls and smashed-up phones.

"It took about three hours. The majority of the litter was empty beer tins and beer bottles from a well-known drinking hotspot. We had people from all walks of life – it was a good day out," Conall said.

"People did find a lot of dog poo, as well as old ropes, fishing nets and lines, even a couple of fishing rods."

Paul Johnston, project officer with Tidy NI, said: "I have to thank everyone who made it out. Such a nice day and a great crowd of people, out helping the community. Over 50 bags of rubbish collected and over 40 volunteers there to give a helping hand. It took four full cars to take all the rubbish away."

Meanwhile, if you live in the area and you missed the event, SDLP councillor Donal Cunningham is organising clean-ups throughout the month, and is appealing for people to phone in with litter hotspots. He can be e-mailed at

How to join in

Joining in the Big Spring Clean is easy. All you need to do is register an event or join an existing event online at, order your free clean-up kit and get stuck in. Your local council will help by supplying additional kit and will collect the rubbish gathered. For information e-mail or phone Tidy NI on 028 9073 6920.

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