Congratulations to all our Ocean Heroes Awarded at Ocean Talks & Ocean Hero Awards Ceremony 2018

We’d also like to say thank you to everyone who nominated their Ocean Heroes. We are delighted to have received the most amount of nominations ever for the awards this year. Everyone nominated really made an outstanding contribution to Ireland’s coastal environment. This year we looked for entries to the following 6 categories: Group of the Year, Individual of the Year, School of the Year, Business of the Year, Beach Clean of the Year and Think Before You Flush Award.

What are the Ocean Hero Awards?

The Clean Coasts’ Ocean Hero Awards are about honouring the invaluable contribution Ireland’s coastal communities have made towards conserving our spectacular coastline. The awards, originally called the ‘Clean Coasts’ Merit Awards’, were conceived in 2006, consisting then of only one category, ‘The Clean Coasts’ Group of the Year’. Since then the Clean Coasts’ programme has grown to engage over 600 Clean Coasts groups, becoming embedded in many coastal communities nationwide. In an effort to recognise this growth the number of Ocean Hero categories have expanded to include six categories.

Ocean Hero Group of the Year


Keep Our Beaches Clean

A very new group to the Clean Coasts programme, Keep Our Beaches Clean registered as Clean Coasts group in the summer of 2018. However, in that time the group have been extremely hard-working in their efforts to keep the Coastline of SW Mayo clean. They have collected over 2.5 tonnes of rubbish and gathered 1055 followers on Facebook. Over half of their social media followers to date have either participated in a clean-up with the group or on their own. The group had volunteers on SW Mayo beaches every day from July 1st until the end of the season.

Most of the plastic and ropes they have collected since they were established is currently in storage and is to be used for an art project. All items of clothing collected during the beach cleans have been washed and sent to charity shops. Toys were also washed and collected in a box for the public to use on beaches over the summer, following this they were sent on to local play-schools. The group have also run workshops to raise awareness on waste and recycling.

They are an amazing group who have not only made a huge difference to the beaches of Westport and Louisburgh areas of Mayo, they have also helped to change behaviour of those visiting the beaches through their environmental message.


5th Wicklow Bray
Sea Scouts

5th Wicklow Bray Sea Scouts are a new group joining Clean Coasts in 2018. They got straight to work and set up a designated #2minutebeachclean bin at the scout den along with #2minutebeachclean campaign signage in the harbour to promote the message to the wider public.

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Burrenbeo Conservation

Burrenbeo Trust carried out 3 successful beach cleans in 2018 clearing the Burren coastline of more than 1 1/2 tonnes of rubbish and involving more than 85 different volunteers. They also worked closely with other local organisations and farmers to keep the Burren coastline as clear of rubbish as possible. 

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Clean Coasts

Clean Coasts Ballynamona acts as the main network support for many of the East Cork Clean Coasts Groups as well as arranging multiple clean ups throughout the year. They are constantly engaging volunteers, schools, local politicians and businesses in their efforts and raise awareness of marine pollution at both a local and national level.

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Cósta Glan agus Glas An Fhálcarraigh

Cósta Glan agus Glas An Fhálcarraigh or Falcarragh Clean Coasts Group was setup in just 2016 and since then have gone from strength to strength in improving the coastal environment around Falcarragh. This group not only carries out beach cleans every month, they have also inspired many other groups in the county to carry out beach cleans on a regular basis.

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Ocean Hero Individual of the Year


Seán Ferguson

Seán can be seen cleaning beaches along the Wexford coast every morning all year round. He combines his beach cleaning with daily swims and walking his dog early before he starts work. This year he took part in the Big Beach Clean in September and covered 7 beaches in total including Ballymoney North and South, Cahore, Seafield, Tara Cove, Kiltennel and Saleen.

Seán often takes the bags of rubbish he collects to his front garden to sort and make sure that as much as possible gets recycled. He also collects all the beach toys he finds, washes them and distributes them to charities and local creches in Gorey. Seán is a big supporter of our #2minutebeachclean campaign and his Instagram captures his daily finds along the Wexford coast and inspires others to get in on the beach cleaning action.


Liam McNamara

Fanore local Liam McNamara is an amazing beach cleaner/comber. Liam lets Burrenbeo Conservation Volunteers know which parts of the coast around Fanore need a good clean up and he very generously allows them to pile the collected rubbish in his front garden until the council can come and take it away. 

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Olive Gilsenan

Olive Gilsenan has been the driving force behind the Portrane and Donabate Clean Coasts Group since its inception at the start of 2016. In that time the group has gone from strength to strength hosting numerous monthly cleanups at both Portrane and Donabate beaches. Olive has also always tried to engage the public around the educational aspects of the coastal area and the importance of protecting it. 

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Peter O’Donnell

Peter is the main person behind the Clean Coasts Group, ACI Arranmore Cultural Initiative, which was established in 2012. He has been carrying out beach cleans on Arranmore for many years working tirelessly with volunteers. He is also very involved in every aspect of tackling litter on the island.

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Proinsias Ó Tuama

Clean Coasts Ballynamona has been taking care of the local and surrounding marine environment in East Cork since 2015, and have won several Ocean Hero Awards since then. Their founder Proinsias Ó Tuama is inspirational in his work and dedication and indeed won the Ocean Hero Award for Outstanding Achievement last year.

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Ocean Hero School of the Year


St. Colman’s Community College

St. Colman’s Community College has been a recipient of the Ocean Hero School of the Year Award in previous years and their dedication to the coast continues to grow and inspire others:

The current beaches under their care are: Ballynamona West, Ballynamona East, Ardnahinch, Garryvoe, Silverstrand, Ballinwilling, Ballycroneen, Ballybranagan, Pilmore, Redbarn, Claycastle and The Front Strand in Youghal.

They are also working and engaging with other local schools – mentoring Coláiste an Chroí Naofa, Carraig na bhFear, and brought 80 of their students and teachers out beach cleaning with them raising further awareness. They are continuing to mentor other schools and spread the message.

They are constantly promoting coastal care. Recently their “Love your Beach” message made the front page of the Examiner and other publications – Evening Echo, East Cork Journal & Marine Times.

They have supported the town of Midleton to help tackle litter and prevent it from entering the rivers in the town. 75 TY students took part in this and approximately 25 black bags of litter were removed from the town each day they went out; as we all know, 80% of marine litter starts on land.

Their support of the Think Before You Flush campaign is ongoing – both in the school and in the surrounding area.

A special mention has to be given to their teacher Prionsias Ó Tuama who has led this school tirelessly in their efforts to tackle marine pollution.


Newpark School

The Dublin based school and its “Plastic Out of the Park” campaign which reached national coverage this year when it’s transition years students launched it in March of 2018. The aim of the campaign was for the school to be the first ever single-use place free campus in Ireland. As part of the campaign the students took a five-fold approach to achieve this.

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St Michael’s School

St Michael’s School have been involved with the Clean Coasts programme since 2016 which they joined as part of their Green-Schools Project. It was the school’s proximity to a core area of the Dublin Bay Biosphere reserve that was the impetus for the students to establish the group, they wanted to be involved in protecting its unique coastal habitats. 

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Ocean Hero Business of the Year – Shortlist 2018

Dive Academy

Dive Academy organised 2 successful beach clean events: 101 dive site on 2nd June as part of Coca-Cola Clean Coasts Week events and White Strand beach on 15th September as part of the Big Beach Clean. The business collected around 200kg of debris during these events.

The group filled over 20 sacks (140kg) of refuse during the Big Beach Clean, along with several large objects (a metal fence-post, a tangled mass of rope, a car battery, plastic panels and sheets). The group took these objects to the local council facility for processing. The volunteers were invited back to the Dive Academy for tea and coffee, in reusable mugs, and biscuits. The Dive Academy then showed short videos from Clean Coasts and Project Aware on the problems of plastic and how to address these problems. The Dive Academy also gave free dives to two young volunteers in their pool.

The business holds “Dive Against Debris” dives (an initiative from Project Aware) where they collect any underwater debris from some of their favourite dive sites in the Atlantic. The business now includes information on underwater debris collection during their dive briefings and they encourage divers to collect underwater debris and return it to their dive centre for disposal.

See more about their beach clean event here.


Marine Harvest Ireland

Marine Harvest Ireland joined as a Clean Coasts Group in 2014. This year they have supported the formation of the new Fanad Clean Coasts Group, a very important step in bringing the peninsula together to tackle coastal environmental issues, and held a nationwide cleanup event. This took place during Coca-Cola Clean Coasts Week 2018 and cleanups happened in 9 different locations around the country, collecting a staggering 2,815 kg of litter.

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Oceanworld Aquarium

Oceanworld Aquarium has been a Clean Coasts group for many years and has previously won an Ocean Hero Award. They are constant champions and leaders in the fight against marine litter on the Dingle Peninsula… they organise beach cleans around the Peninsula throughout the year. They engage in education on marine litter – both in the Aquarium and on an outreach basis too.

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Ocean Hero Beach Clean of the Year – Shortlist 2018

‘Havin’ a Laugh’ Eco Adventure

On Sunday 16th September, ‘Havin’ a Laugh’ a mental health charity based in Sligo, ran 3 eco-adventure events in North Sligo.

Dernish Island – Kayaking
Trawluath beach – Horse Riding
Streedagh beach – Trail running

‘Havin’ a Laugh’ charity was established to promote positive mental health through life-enhancing activities. They are dedicated to the promotion of life-enhancing activities as essential tools for personal emotional stability and positive mental health. They have been registered as Clean Coasts group since 2014 and in that time have taken hosted numerous eco-adventures, yoga on the beach activities during clean coasts week.

The idea of the adventure was to clean hard to reach stretches of coastline during Clean Coasts’ Big Beach Clean Weekend.

11am: A kayak from Milk harbour north of Grange out to Dernish Island and back to mainland was organised. 10 volunteers took part and collected 20 bags of rubbish on the island.

3pm: 10-15 volunteers met on Streedagh Beach and went trail running while picking up litter also known as plogging, cleaning 13km of coastline.

3.30pm: A team of 7 met at Island View Riding stables(also a Clean Coasts group) and went on horseback to Trawluath beach and cleared a stretch of hard to reach coastline.

The most common litter items found were, fishing debris and plastic bottles, lobster pots, ropes, plastic containers, and 20-gallon drums.

The event was organised by the Havin’ A Laugh charity and the following activity providers donated their time: Northwest Adventure Tours (Trailrunning), Fitness4All (Trailrunning), Sligo Kayak Tours (kayaking), Island View Riding stables (Horseriding) and Seastainability.


Keep Our Beaches Clean’s Big Beach Clean

Keep Our Beaches Clean organised an amazing 13 beach cleanup event in the Westport and Louisburgh areas of Co. Mayo over the weekend of the Big Beach Clean 2018. With some beaches being cleaned on more than one occasion due to the volume of litter.

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Sanofi’s Earth Day Cleanup

Photo by Colin Shanahan

Sanofi are one of our new Clean Coasts groups and joined as a business group in 2018. They wanted to hold a company-wide volunteer day to encourage employees to take part in protecting our oceans and decided to host an event to coincide with Earth Day on 22nd April 2018. They organized a mass clean up of 15 Waterford beaches.

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Ocean Hero Think Before You Flush Award – Shortlist 2018

Think Before You Flush is operated by An Taisce’s Clean Coasts Programme and is supported by Irish Water.


Galway Atlantaquaria

World Water Day, on 22 March every year, is about focusing attention on the importance of water. The theme for World Water Day 2018 is ‘Nature for Water’ – exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century. For World Water Day Galway Atlantaquaria, a long-time supporter of the Think Before You Flush campaign made a video highlighting the importance of why you must Think Before You Flush.


St. Colman’s Community College

St. Colman’s College, a supporter of Clean Coasts and a previous winner of the Think Before You Flush Ocean Hero award highlighted the benefits of the Think Before You Flush campaign during their open day. 

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St. Laurence’s National School

At the February 2018 Green Schools Expo St. Laurence’s National School, Greystones displayed their work on the Think Before You Flush initiative, showcasing their knowledge on the impact of sanitary waste on marine life and the proper way to dispose of items commonly used in the bathroom.

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