Popular beaches lose sought-after Blue Flag status
Four of Ireland's most popular beaches have been forced to lower their coveted Blue Flag.
Portrane in north Dublin lost out on the sought-after international hallmark because of a dip in water quality.
Surfers' favourite in Garretstown, Co Cork, as well as Redbarn in Youghal have also been stripped of their top-quality status this year.
Ross Killala in Co Mayo lost the honour because of inadequate lifeguard cover.
There were a number of winners, too, with the likes of Brittas Bay North in Wicklow and Ballymoney North Beach in Wexford both hoisting the flag this year.
Kinsale Yacht Club is also celebrating after taking back the quality stamp it lost in 2003.
Altogether, 85 Blue Flags were awarded across the country in the latest prize-giving ceremony - a drop of one since last year.
Some 79 were to beaches and six to marinas.
Environment Minister Simon Coveney said more work was needed to bring up the standard of bathing waters throughout Ireland.
"While the quality of Ireland's bathing water remains very high, we must not become complacent," he said.
"We must continue to invest in improving water services infrastructure so as to improve the quality of our waters.
"This will support the great effort being put into the Blue Flag Programme by the local authorities and coastal communities."
Another 56 beaches were bestowed with the Green Coast Award, which recognises a clean environment, excellent water quality and natural beauty.
This was two fewer than last year.
These beaches usually do not qualify for Blue Flag status because they have not got built facilities for visitors.