Media Contact:  Annabel FitzGerald, Coastal Programmes Manager, An Taisce
Telephone: 087 6169727
Twitter: @CleanCoasts
Regional Press Releases also available


Clean Coasts Symposium & Ocean Hero Awards

An Taisce’s annual Clean Coasts Symposium & Ocean Hero Awards were held on Wednesday 19th November at The Royal College of Physicians, Dublin. The Clean Coasts Symposium brought together key stakeholders in the area of marine litter such as coastal communities, policy-makers, NGOs, tourism bodies, the science community, plastics industry and the fishing industry. The presence of marine litter in our oceans is a global concern that requires action.  Adequate measures are needed to address the pressure of litter in the marine environment both at sea and on land whereby public awareness and community action plays a vital role. Clean Coasts is about engaging communities in the protection of our beaches, seas and marine life. There are currently 423 Clean Coasts groups participating in the programme. The prestigious Clean Coasts Ocean Hero Awards are about recognising the invaluable work done by these committed volunteers across the country on a daily basis to protect Ireland’s beautiful coastline.

Speaking at the Symposium Martin Dorey said, “The 2 minute beach clean can be whatever you want it to be. You just pick up a few bits whenever you go to the beach and put them in the rubbish. Simple. Every piece of litter you remove from the marine environment is a piece of litter that will no longer entangle wildlife, break into thousands of tiny pieces and end up in the food chain or ghost fish for eternity. Every piece counts.” He added, “It is wonderful to be working with An Taisce’s Clean Coasts programme to promote the 2 Minute Beach Clean in Ireland.”

Speaking at the event, Annabel FitzGerald, Coastal Programmes Manager, An Taisce said, “We organize 100s of beach cleans mobilizing thousands of volunteers to remove considerable quantities of marine litter from our coastline. For example, during The Big Beach Clean weekend in September, 103 Clean Coasts groups removed 33,442 litter items from 128km of coastline. This was done in one weekend and serves as an indicator of the magnitude of the problem of marine litter.” She added that, “the top ten litter items included the usual suspects; recreational litter like plastic bottles and aluminum cans, cigarette butts, fishing litter such as ropes and nets and sewage related litter such as cotton bud sticks.”

Speaking about Clean Coasts Ocean Hero Awards, she added “All 423 Clean Coasts Groups should be incredibly proud of the impact they have made in protecting the coast. Collectively they have removed over 500,000 pieces of litter from the Irish coast during 2014. The Ocean Hero Awards are about celebrating these coastal custodians and will hopefully inspire others to join the movement for litter free seas.”

The Clean Coasts Programme is operated by the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce and is supported by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Coca-Cola and Fáilte Ireland.



Ocean Hero Awardees




Information about the group/person

School of the Year Award Poulfur NS, Wexford

“In a year in which our community remembers and celebrates the Ocean Heroes of our parish  (whose acts of valour in 1914 saw 9 of them losing their lives whilst saving the lives of others) whom we remembered during the Clean Coasts Programme this year, we are humbled by the honour bestown upon our school and community by being awarded Ocean Hero School of the Year 2014. Our project drew together the very best of local (Sandra and Anne of Hook Residents Association), county (Cliona Connelly – Wexford County Council) , national (Aidan Gray and An Taisce Clean Coasts)  and school efforts and has left a lasting legacy with the children, the future of our community.”

In May during Coca-Cola Clean Coasts Week the teachers and pupils of Poulfur NS, near Fethard-On-Sea in Co. Wexford were extremely busy with a three-day coastal education event. The school joined forces with Aidan Gray our Clean Coasts Officer in the East, Hook Residents Association, and Wexford County Council. 75 children were brought out each day for local coastal clean ups and coastal education and visited a variety of different locations, from coves, to long sandy beaches, to Hook lighthouse. It was a major operation with logistics and the school managed it all with such great gusto. Poulfur NS registered as a Clean Coasts group in 2010 but this year was their largest community coastal event to date.Chloe Draught, Dara McGee, Domini Bin Mhic Oda, Harry Nunan and Sarah Miskella accepted their award for Clean Coasts Ocean Hero Award for School of the Year 2014.
Event of the Year Coolbeg Clean-up 

“Drumcliffe bay is an important aspect of our local enviroment and we in Drumcliffe Rathcormac Tidy Towns greatly appreciate the help and advice of Clean Coasts in our efforts to maintain the health and cleanliness of this important natural resource.”

On Saturday morning March 29th over 50 volunteers from Lissadell Coastscare and Drumcliffe/Rathcormac Tidy Towns came together to tackle the issue of illegal dumping on the Coolbeg Shoreline in Co. Sligo. The dumping which had been taking place for several years included domestic waste such as nappies, as well as numerous bags containing glass bottles, cans and electrical equipment including TVs. In addition to this there was also over 300 tyres dumped on the shoreline. With assistance from Sligo County Council the tyres were removed and the other litter items were sorted for recycling on the beach that day. Local businesses also got involved by providing refreshments for all those who took part.  These groups are being acknowledged for the effort it took to plan such a large scale clean-up involving many volunteers and proves no amount of dumping is too great for a community to take on with assistance from their local authority and businesses alike.Tamlyn Mc Hugh fronm Lissadell Coastcare and Michael Kirby from Drumcliffe/Rathcormac Tidy Towns collected their award for Ocean Hero Event of the year 2014.
Newcomer of the Year Award Burrenbeo Trust Conservation Volunteers

“The Burrenbeo Conservation Volunteers is an active voluntary community that works towards the sustainable management of the Burren (north County Clare and south County Galway), by addressing key conservation issues in the region, e.g. coastal clean ups, habitat management and dry-stone wall building and repair. The spring storms hit the Burren coastline hard this year resulting in vast amounts of debris being carried far inland. With a lot of hard labour and the support of Clean Coasts we have made a huge difference, leaving  a large section of the Burren coastline visibly cleaner. We would like to thank all our volunteers for taking part in this project and the Clean Coasts team for all their support and advice. Our future plans include monitoring the Burren coastline and working to keep it as clean and litter free as possible.”

Burrenbeo Trust Conservation Volunteers joined the Clean Coasts programme in February 2014 and since then they have worked tirelessly to tackle the issue of marine litter along the coastline of The Burren. During Coca-Cola Clean Coasts week 2014 and the Big Beach Clean 2014 they successfully collected over 350kg of marine litter, clearing a large section of the rocky coastline on Blackhead of debris that was carried far up onto the land during the spring storms earlier this year. They choose this area because it was in need of their attention disregarding the difficult terrain they faced and the distances they would have to carry the debris, litter and nets back to collection points; removing items that were not only a blight to the beauty of the area but also a risk to local fauna. Having had a great positive impact along this area they are now looking towards the next area that is in need of their attention.Martin Hawkes, chairperson of the board of directors at Burrenbeo Trust collected the Ocean Hero Newcomer of the Year Award on the group’s behalf.
Volunteer of the Year Award Dan Clabby Galway Dan Clabby is part of the Clean Coasts group, Conservation Volunteers Galway who joined the programme in May 2013. Although their coastal cleanup days are a team effort, there is a sense that Dan is a driving force within the group. Having taken part in several beach cleanups with his group, he is quick to encourage participation by local community groups and individuals as well as being dedicated in seeing the work through no matter the hours it takes to do so. He has not only participated greatly in the Clean Coasts programme by giving a talks at the Clean Coasts Symposium and at our regional seminar in Galway but has helped others organize their cleanups and never misses an opportunity to take part; even taking the time to join a cleanup in Co. Clare ‘just to be sociable’.He also shows a great thoughtfulness and care towards the coastline by aiming to have cleanups not in areas that are necessarily well used or popular but instead focusing on areas that are not always thought of and desperately in need of care. Through all of these actions he shows great dedication to our coastal environment.Dan Clabby collected the Ocean Hero Volunteer of the Year Award.
Business of the Year Award Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium

“Oceanworld Aquarium has been involved with Clean Coasts for the past number of years. We organise and co ordinate beach cleans on the Dingle Peninsula as well as educating people about the importance of clean seas and awareness of coastal clean ups.”

Oceanworld Aquarium in Dingle, Co. Kerry has been an active group since 2010. The business organises local beach cleans around the Dingle Peninsula during the Big Beach Clean and Coca-Cola Clean Coasts Week.The business has been an unfaltering supporter of Clean Coasts by hosting the Love Your Coast photography exhibition every year, providing space for the Clean Coasts Roadshow and indeed they have donated prizes for Clean Coasts week and agreed to support an educational trip by UCC to the aquarium.Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium also has a specific education area in their premises on marine litter and ensures that this is discussed during school visits.Suzanne Hall and Marine O’Shea collected the Ocean Hero Business of the Year Award 2014 for Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium.
Person of the Year May Burns

“It is a privilege to be involved in something as important as caring for our coastline. Becoming involved with the Clean Coasts group has helped us in the North-West to focus on protecting the wonderful natural resource that is our ocean.”

May has been involved with the Clean Coasts programme since May 2012 and is a member of the Mullaghmore Active group in Co. Sligo. As a Clean Coasts volunteer May has worked with her group on many conservation activities such as regular beach cleans, litter surveys and dune restoration projects. She has also created links with local Clean Coasts primary schools, brought together a large number of volunteers for the 2 minute beach clean initiative with Martine Dorey on Mullaghmore beach in August this year and gave a talk on behalf of the Clean Coasts programme at the recent Keep Northern Ireland beautiful Coastcare Awards. She has taken part in all these activities with an amazing amount enthusiasm and positivity. She is obliging to work with and is one of our most dependable coastal custodians.May Burns collected the award.
Group of the Year Award Wexford Sub Aqua Club

“Wexford Sub Aqua Club, delighted to have been the first Irish dive club to get involved with the Clean Coasts programme. Founded in 1971 and a member of Cleancoast since 2007”

Wexford Sub Aqua Club registered as a Clean Coasts Group seven years ago and each year have been very active with Clean Coasts events, but 2014 saw the largest clean ups events so far. The club’s year started with a large-scale community clean up after the winter storms, then in March the group gave an excellent presentation to Co. Wexford communities at a Clean Coasts Seminar. In April the club organized a large scale operation of which 245 people attended, possibly the most-attended clean up in Clean Coasts history. During the Big Beach Clean in September, the group again organized a large-scale clean up of local beaches to Kilmore Quay, where Wexford County Council recorded that several tons of rubbish were collected on this one clean up event. While the club has teamed up with a variety of local groups, An Taisce’s Clean Coasts staff, Wexford County Council, and NPWS, it was the massive logistical organization of the group to achieve these huge clean ups successfully. 2014 truly was an exceptional year for their Clean Coasts efforts.Ivan Donoghue and John Casey collected the award.
Long Term Contribution for Clean Coasts by an Individual Margaret Browne, Sandycove, Dublin

“The immense popularity of Sandycove beach involves a proactive approach to maintain not only its appeal for visitors but also to raise awareness and protect the precious rich marine habitat. To that end the Sandycove Coastcare Group was established 10 years ago and in addition to the physical efforts involved in maintaining the upkeep of the coast it has attempted to build community spirit, team-work along with a sense of pride and respect for our natural environment.”

Margaret Browne has shown excellent leadership for Sandycove for many years and maintained continual conservation of the seaside environment of Sandycove/Glasthule in Dublin. While organizing lots of varied community events for the locality, through Clean Coasts she has displayed great progress for the group. Among her successful actions, she developed a brochure of natural birdlife and seaside amenities; arranged a Peace Process plaque and ceremony; was instrumental in the annual Bloomsday festival; arranged a plaque and ceremony for Forgotten Irish Emigrants during the 2013 Gathering; developed anti-gum initiatives; and holds many clean ups and coastal initiatives throughout the year. Margaret binds groups of the community to work together in Clean Coasts actions, from local shops, schools, disability groups, youth groups and more. Since registering Sandycove Tidy Towns as a Clean Coasts Group in 2006, she has impressively kept such drive and management of coastal community action, and is truly a great example of a unique and passionate individual.Margret Browne collected the award.