• Clean Coasts celebrated groups and individuals from county Cork who made a difference for our marine environment this year, with groups receiving the titles of Youth of the Year and Beach Clean Award 

Today Clean Coasts hosted the Ocean Hero Awards Ceremony and Ocean Talks at Number 6 Kildare Street, in Dublin, to celebrate and thank the groups, individuals, communities, and businesses who, throughout the year, have done outstanding work to protect their local coastline and environment.  

Each year, the Ocean Hero Awards honour the invaluable contribution Clean Coasts volunteers, groups and 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’.    

This year, Clean Coasts has chosen 7 dedicated categories with a total of 28 groups, organisations and individuals shortlisted for the title of Ocean Hero within each category.  

In County Cork, there were three nominees within four separate Categories including Clean Coasts Ballynamona in the Group of the Year category, Jess Leahy (from Clean Coasts Ballynamona) in the Individual of the Year category, St Colman’s Community College in the Youth of the Year category and St Colman’s College in tandem with Clean Coasts Ballynamona once again in the Beach Clean Award category.   

Among them, St Colman’s Community College were one of the recipients of the Youth of the Year Awards for the incredible work they have carried out in 2022. Since March 1st, 2022, in conjunction with schools and businesses they have removed 4 tonnes of litter from Blackrock Castle and since June 2021 2 tonnes of waste from White Bay.   The students were instrumental in getting Ballynamona Beach its first Blue Flag in 2022. Back in the classroom the TY students engage with younger students to spread the important lessons they learnt from their beach cleans. In the last 12 months they have conducted beach cleans in Blackrock Castle, White Bay, Ballybranagan, Ballycroneen, Ballynamona, Ardnahinch, Garryvoe, Ballinwilling, Ballycroneen, Pilmore, Redbarn, and Claycastle. 

Furthermore, St Colman’s Community College in conjunction with Clean Coasts Ballynamona took home the Beach Clean Award title for the beach clean they organised in May 2022, when over a tonne of litter was removed from the Blackrock Castle Area. 

Picture shows members of the Hastings family (from left) Angela; Niamh; Anne and Louise Hastings, of Keep Our Beaches Clean in Louisburgh, Co. Mayo. Image:Naoise Culhane

In addition to raising awareness about issues related to marine litter and relevant solution, this year the Clean Coasts programme put a particular focus on biodiversity, and this was reflected in the Ocean Talks, which were held on the same day as the Ocean Hero ceremony, giving attendees the opportunity to learn more about this topic.  

Speakers included: Timothy Butter from Seasearch, Dave Wall from National Biodiversity Centre, Proinsias O’Tuama from East Cork Biodiversity Network, Mícheál Callaghan from Community Wetlands Forum and Martha Farrell from Maharees Conservation Association. 

Malcolm Noonan, Minister of State, was the keynote speaker of the event. He said:

The Clean Coasts brand is intrinsically associated with environmental excellence and it is widely acknowledged that its community engagement initiatives and environmental campaigns are making a tangible difference to our coastal environment.   The Ocean Hero Awards recognise the effort, dedication and commitment of individuals, volunteers, groups and the wider community to safeguard the future of our oceans.  I am struck and heartened by the wide variety of entries and the amazing work that is going on around the length and breadth of the country.  My Department will continue to support the Clean Coast range of programmes into 2023.  We consider these to be important national anti- marine litter and citizen activation measures which we will continue showcase internationally as examples of best practice.

Sinead McCoy, Clean Coasts Manager said:

For the past 15 years, the Clean Coasts programme’s Ocean Hero Awards have been celebrating the incredible efforts of Clean Coasts volunteers around the Irish Coastline. We have nothing but awe and respect for the amazing groups and individuals highlighted in our shortlist for this year’s Ocean Hero Awards. We were delighted to have received so many inspirational nominations that show not only the true dedication of these coastal custodians, but also that their efforts don’t go unnoticed by the community.

Further information on the Clean Coasts Ocean Heroes can be found on the Clean Coasts website for updates here.   

Full nominees lists and winners

1.    Group of the Year Award 

    Keep Our Beaches Clean – Co. Mayo (Winners)

–    Bettystown Tidy Towns – Co. Louth

–    Bull Island Action Group – Co. Dublin

–    Spanish Point Community Group – Co. Clare

–    Clean Coasts Ballynamona – Co. Cork

2.    Individual of the Year Award

    Peter O’Donnell – Arranmore Island Clean Coasts – Co. Donegal (Winner)

–    Anne Nolan – Tramore Eco Group – Co. Waterford

–    Sean Ferguson – Co. Wexford

–    Liam Keane – Bettystown Tidy Towns – Co. Meath

–    Jess Leahy – Clean Coasts Ballynamona – Co. Cork 

3.    Youth of the Year Award

–    St Colmans Community College – Co. Cork 

–    Gasoga Mara na Galtachta – Co. Galway

–    West Coast Surf Club -Co. Clare

4.    Local Action Award

    Bettystown Tidy Towns – Co. Meath (Winners)

–    Alpha Diving Group – Co. Louth

–    Friends of Doohoma Coastline – Co. Mayo

–    Costa Alainn – Co. Louth

–    Fenit Coast Conservation – Co. Kerry

5.    Campaigner of the Year Award

    Sean Ferguson – Co. Wexford (Winner)

–    Cranmore Community CO-OP Water Project – Co. Sligo

–    Martina Healy (Leitrim Litter Picker) – Co. Leitrim

–    Galway Atlantaquaria – Co. Galway

–    Rediscovery Centre Science Fair – Co. Dublin

6.    Beach Clean Award 

–    St Colman’s College & Clean Coasts Ballynamona – Co. Cork (Winners)

–    Maharees Conservation Association CLG – Co. Kerry

–    Tomhaggard Clean Coasts Group – Co. Louth

–    Big Liberties Clean up – Co. Dublin 

–    Burrenbeo Conservation Volunteers – Co. Galway

7.    Special Achievement Award 

    Maharees Conservation Association CLG – Co.Kerry (Winners)

–    Cooley Community Alert – Co. Louth

–    Western Care Group – Co. Mayo

–    Clean Coasts Ballynamona – Co. Cork

–    Galway City Partnership – Co. Galway     

WEBSITE: www.cleancoasts.org 


Facebook: @CleanCoasts  

Twitter: @CleanCoasts  

Instagram: @cleancoasts 

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Linkedin: Clean Coasts      

Hashtags: #OceanHero #CleanCoasts  

WEBSITE: https://cleancoasts.org/our-initiatives/ocean-hero-awards/

About Clean Coasts:  

Clean Coasts is a charity programme, run through the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce, which engages communities in the protection of Ireland’s beaches, seas and marine life. Clean Coasts works with communities to help protect and care for Ireland’s waterways, coastline, seas, ocean and marine life. Clean Coasts thrives to create tangible and immediate improvements to Ireland’s coastal environment, involving thousands of volunteers removing large quantities of marine litter from our coastline each year.  

Clean Coasts has grown over the years and now includes two main national clean-up drives. Other initiatives include the Green Coast Award, the Love Your Coast Photography competition, the Clean Coasts Roadshows for coastal communities and the Ocean Hero Awards. All these initiatives are aimed at celebrating the beauty of our coast and the efforts of our volunteers across all of Ireland.   

Currently, there are over 2,000 registered Clean Coasts volunteering groups. There are a variety of group types such as community groups, residents’ associations, tidy towns groups, sports clubs, schools, businesses, universities etc. Clean Coasts organises hundreds of beach clean-ups annually mobilising thousands of volunteers, removing considerable quantities of marine litter from Ireland’s beaches and waterways.  Our volunteering has expanded to also include Corporate Volunteering.  

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