23 Nov 2017
Creevy Co-op has come out tops at this year’s Ocean Hero Awards which were hosted by the Clean Coast Programme on Tuesday at the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin.
The Clean Coasts’ Ocean Hero Awards was celebrating eleven years of honouring the invaluable contribution Ireland’s coastal communities have made towards conserving our spectacular coastline and the Creevy Co-op was one of just seven groups nationally to won this coveted award.
Donegal County Council’s Coastal Officer David Friel works closely with the Clean Coasts Programme and is delighted to see Donegal so well represented in these national awards saying “we have great engagement from local communities right along the coast here in Donegal and I am delighted to see not only Creevy Co-op coming out on top but also the community at Cruit and the Northwest Mountaineering Club at Horn Head also shortlisted in their respective categories out of over 600 groups nationally.
“Dealing with marine litter is a major concern not just locally but also globally and by coming out and doing this work in their own communities these groups are really making a difference to the impact that marine litter can have not only on the environment but also on marine life in our oceans”.
Creevy Co-op was honoured for their clean up of the 10 mile coastal walk from Ballyshannon to Creevy in Donegal for World Oceans Day during Coca-Cola Clean Coasts Week in 2017. There was a fantastic turn out of diverse volunteers who worked in small groups to tackle marine litter. A huge volume of litter was lifted from the scrub, beach and rocky shore of the walk. Not only was this a great cleanup but also a huge amount of effort and co-operation was needed to make it such a success. Castle Adventure Farm provided the group with access across their farmland as well as refreshments afterwards; several volunteers picked up litter from many collection points; there was a lot of organizing to get the maximum spread of volunteers and follow-ups to make sure everyone's litter was collected. This meant a few hours cleaning was a whole day operation for the group who carried it out seamlessly.
Keep Cruit Clean
Keep Cruit Clean was established in January 2016 and ever since then they have had a beach clean on the first Sunday of every month. They have removed over 140 bags of litter from the island along with some larger items such as old caravans in 2016 alone. They have also carried out dune conservation work and education by planting marram grass with pupils from the local national school. The group has been blessed to have true ocean heroes like Diana Doherty among them. And, indeed, one of the group’s proudest elements is the diversity of participants with an age-range of 6 months to 80+ years old, locals and visitors alike. The group strongly believes that, ‘these beaches are not yours or ours, they are everybody's’. And it is for this reason that they continue their amazing work on the island.
Northwest Mountaineering Club at Horn Head
The Northwest Mountaineering Club was established in 1955 and carried out their first beach clean of Pollaguill Beach, Horn Head in Donegal in 2015. This beach remains almost completely untouched except when the club and local farmer get together to tackle the marine litter washed up. During the first cleanups here, it took 2 events in the year to get it clean and now the group is dedicated to visiting it once a year to remove a year’s worth of marine litter. This mammoth task involves hiking in and spending hours cleaning the beach filling massive bags that get taken back across to a collection point with thanks to the local farmer who joins in on the cleaning as well. Not only do they do this but they also find the energy to hike around Horn Head afterwards!
The presence of marine litter in our oceans is a global concern that requires action. Adequate measures are needed to address the impacts of litter in the marine environment both at sea and on land whereby public awareness and community action plays a vital role. The Clean Coasts Ocean Talks and Ocean Hero Awards brought together key stakeholders in the area of marine litter such as coastal communities, NGOs, tourism bodies, the science community, business and the fishing industry.
Sinead McCoy, Coastal Communities Manager with An Taisce’s Environmental Education Unit said “Over the past 11 years the Clean Coasts programme’s Ocean Hero Awards have really brought to the fore the remarkable work and wonderful coastal celebration events that Clean Coasts volunteers have been involved in along the Irish coastline. This year has been no different as we received inspirational nominations that show the true dedication of these coastal custodians.”
The Clean Coasts Ocean Hero Award Winners 2017 are as follows:
Maharees Conservation Group, Kerry Ocean Hero Award - Group of the Year
Seamus McGoldrick, Strandhill, Sligo Ocean Hero Award - Individual of the Year
NorthWest Coastal Clean Ups, Leitrim Ocean Hero Award – Idea of the Year
St Colman’s Community College, Cork Ocean Hero Award - School of the Year
Galway Atlantaquaria, Galway Ocean Hero Award - Business of the Year
Creevy Co-Op, Donegal Ocean Hero Award - Beach Clean of the Year
Clean Coasts Ballynamona Ocean Hero Award – Outstanding Achievement Award
Clean Coasts engages communities in the protection of Ireland’s beaches, seas and marine life. The programme is operated by the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce and is currently funded by the Department of the Housing, Planning & Local Government and Fáilte Ireland.