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Dublin: 13°C Tuesday 9 August 2022

Here are the four bathing areas classified as having 'poor' quality water in Ireland

96% of beaches met EU standards last year.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/

THE NUMBER OF designated bathing water locations in Ireland that met the EU’s minimum standards last year rose to 142, with 111 classified as ‘excellent’.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) annual report on Ireland’s bathing waters reveals that the standard of beaches continued to improve last year.

The report examined the bathing water quality at 148 locations across the country last summer, 96% of which met or exceeded the minimum required standard.

Four new bathing waters were classified as ‘excellent’, although quality at another four beaches was deemed ‘poor’ – compared with five in 2019 and 2018.

The four locations classified as ‘poor’ were:

  • Clifden Beach, Co Galway
  • Lilliput at Lough Ennell, Co Westmeath
  • Cúas Crom, Co Kerry
  • Front Strand Beach in Balbriggan, Co Dublin

It is the fifth year in a row that Clifden Beach was classified as ‘poor’, and it will now be declassified as a bathing water for 2021.

It is also the third year in a row that Lilliput at Lough Ennell in Westmeath has been classified as ‘poor’, after having received a ‘good’ classification in 2017.

Bathing water classified as ‘poor’ means there is a risk of microbiological presence which could potentially cause illnesses like skin rashes or gastric upset.

Local authorities are required to put notices at these areas advising people not to swim there for the entire bathing season.

However, two beaches deemed ‘poor’ in 2019 - Portrane (the Brook) Beach in Dublin and Ballyloughane Beach in Co Galway – improved in 2020 to be classified as ‘good’ and ‘sufficient’ respectively.

And two new bathing waters, Carrigaholt and Quilty, both in Co. Clare, were identified in 2020 and will be classified for the first time following the 2021 season.

Commenting on the report, EPA Director Dr Eimear Cotter welcomed the continued improvement in bathing water quality.

“Good quality bathing waters are important now more than ever as more people enjoy our natural amenities, and particularly swimming,” she said.

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“With many people now swimming outside the bathing season, the EPA is calling for additional water quality monitoring at beaches where there are large numbers of year- round swimmers, and that this information is made available to the public.”

The full report and a map of the quality Ireland’s bathing water sites last year is posted on the EPA website.

  • Our colleagues at Noteworthy want to find out if swimming off Ireland’s coast is under threat from pollution. Support this project here.

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