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Clean Coasts Ocean Talks and Ocean Hero 2017


The Clean Coasts programme was delighted to host Ocean Talks with our Ocean Hero Awards on 21st November 2017 at the Royal College of Physicians, Dublin. 
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.


Beckey-Finn Britton, Clean Coasts Officer for Donegal and Leitrim, with David Friel, Coastal Officer Donegal County Council at the Ocean Hero Awards ceremony in  the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin on Tuesday.
 Ocean Talks Speakers:


Dr Easkey Britton, NUI Galway, Big-Wave Surfer: Dr Easkey Britton, founder of Like Water, is a big-wave surfer and marine social scientist at NUIG. Her work explores the relationship between people and the sea, using her passion for the ocean to create social change and connection across cultures. She is currently a post-doctoral research fellow at NUI Galway co-leading NEAR-Health.


Dr Yvonne Lang, Sligo Institute of Technology: Dr Yvonne Lang is an assistant lecturer in the Department of Life Sciences in IT Sligo. Yvonne's doctoral research explored the potential use of marine organisms for pharmaceutical industry related applications. Her current research interests include marine microorganisms and microorganism-microplastic interactions.


Soibhan Faulker, Clogherhead Development Group: Siobhan and her family are active members of the Clougherhead fishing industry and community. Siobhan volunteers and chairs the Clougherhead Development Group. The group are the local drivers for participation and award winning local and national success on a number of key initiatives such as Tidy Towns, Louth Looking Good and Pride of Place. The Clougherhead Development
Group work closely with the local fishing fleet on these initiatives as well as industry specific initiatives such as BIM’s Net Recycling and Fishing For Litter.

This year 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. The awards, originally known as the ‘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 also expanded to include, Individual of the Year, Bright Idea of the Year, School of the Year, Business of the Year and Beach Clean of the Year.

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:

1.      Maharees Conservation Group, Kerry      Ocean Hero Award - Group of the Year
2.      Seamus McGoldrick, Strandhill, Sligo       Ocean Hero Award - Individual of the Year
3.      NorthWest Coastal Clean Ups, Leitrim     Ocean Hero Award – Idea of the Year
4.      St Colman’s Community College, Cork     Ocean Hero Award - School of the Year
5.      Galway Atlantaquaria, Galway                  Ocean Hero Award - Business of the Year
6.      Creevy Co-Op, Donegal                              Ocean Hero Award - Beach Clean of the Year
7.      Clean Coasts Ballynamona                        Ocean Hero Award – Outstanding Achievement Award

For more information on any of the above winners please see the attached Ocean Talks and Ocean Hero Brochure or contact Clean Coasts for more information.

Clean Coasts is operated by the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce and is funded by the Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government and Fáilte Ireland.

Members of Creevy Co-op receiving the Ocean Hero Beach Clean of the Year Award at the awards ceremony in the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin on Tuesday.

About Clean Coasts

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 and Local Government and Fáilte Ireland.

Clean Coasts has grown over the years and now includes two main national clean-up drives – Coca-Cola Clean Coasts Week and the Big Beach Clean. Our volunteering has expanded to include Corporate Volunteering and the Ocean Hero Awards also. Other aspects include the Green Coast Award, the Love Your Coast Photography competition, the Clean Coasts Roadshow for coastal communities and we are continuing to grow the Clean Coasts programme with the likes of Ocean Talks. The programme also operate several campaigns in Ireland including Think Before You Flush and international campaigns #2minutebeachclean and Beat the Microbead.  The Clean Coasts volunteering effort engages communities in the protection and conservation of their local coastal environment. There are currently over 600 registered Clean Coasts 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 waterway.  www.cleancoasts.org

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
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!

 Creevy Co-op


Creevy Co-op carried out a 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.   www.creevyexperience.com

It’s official! Donegal is now the Media’s Favourite Place in Ireland ...

It’s official! Donegal is now the ‘Media’s Favourite Place in Ireland’ and we even have the certificate to prove it.

Michael Collins, founder and Managing Director of TravelMedia.ie presented this prestigious award to Donegal County Council Chief Executive Seamus Neely and Cathaoirleach Cllr. Gerry McMonagle at the recent Donegal Tourism Seminar in Harvey’s Point Hotel.

“This is an excellent achievement for Donegal and a wonderful addition to our other recent accolades including being named ‘Coolest Place on the Planet 2017’ by National Geographic Traveller and ‘Ireland’s Hidden Gem’ by Independent Travel readers” says Cathaoirleach Cllr. McMonagle.

Michael Collins, TravelMedia.ie presenting Seamus Neely Chief Executive, Donegal County Council and Cllr. Gerry McMonagle Cathaoirleach with the prestigious Travel Media award where Donegal was named at the ‘Media’s Favourite Place in Ireland’ at the Connecting the Coolest Place’ Donegal Tourism Seminar on Thursday (26 October 2017) in Harvey’s Point Hotel.

Donegal received this prestigious award at the Travel Media Awards ceremony in Dublin last June but it was only at yesterday’s conference that the award was officially presented.   These Travel Media awards have grown to become one of the highlights of the annual travel industry calendar and calls on the media to vote and give their say on who they think stands out from the travel industry crowd – past winners include Aer Lingus, MSC Cruises and Crystal Ski Holidays. To be voted as the ‘Media’s Favourite Place in Ireland’ is testament to the increasing popularity of Donegal as the perfect holiday destination on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Michael Collins said “This was the first time we introduced this category. Instead of always asking the media about their favourite international places we thought, let’s bring it back home and ask them about Ireland. It was really interesting to see Donegal win, with the capital Dublin coming second.”

Speaking on Thursday, Seamus Neely said he was thrilled that Donegal has been recognised by the travel media sector and said that “we have been building positive relationships with the travel media in recent years through our work with Donegal Tourism and the Donegal County Council Communications Office in promoting the govisitdonegal.com platform and our Donegal brand. This award is a welcome sign that our communications and PR activities are reaching the right audience and our recognition as ‘Media’s Favourite Place in Ireland’ is very much appreciated”.

Participants attending the Donegal Tourism Seminar

Over 200 attendees participated in the Donegal Tourism Seminar which was hosted in the stunning setting of Harvey’s Point Hotel on the beautiful Lough Eske.   This seminar focused on how best to connect what is now the ‘Coolest Place’ and heard from a line up of tourism and travel experts who shared their expertise on emerging travel trends, tourism strategies and marketing techniques. 

This included Mathew Jackson Managing Director and Publisher of National GeographicTraveller (UK) who is credited with naming Donegal as the Coolest Place on the Planet in 2017.  Matthew visited Donegal for the first time earlier this year and became an instant fan. 

Speaking at the seminar he explained why Donegal received this accolade saying “Donegal is off the mainstream radar and not easy to access but on the cusp of a breakthrough. On the one hand you have the big pushes like the Wild Atlantic Way and the recent filming of Star Wars; on the other hand you only have to drive a few miles to have a beach or a road completely to yourself. It’s a warm hearted place, fantastic food and hospitality but wilderness always feels just a stone’s throw away.  And it is a world class wilderness.  So we thought it deserved a big year!”.

Speakers at the Connecting the Coolest Place’ Donegal Tourism Seminar on Thursday (26 October 2017) in Harvey’s Point Hotel from l to r:  Seamus Neely, Donegal County Council, Carolynne Harrison, The Shandon Hotel, Matthew Jackson, National Geographic Traveller UK, Joan Crawford, Failte Ireland, Cllr. Gerry McMonagle, Cathaoirleach, Greg Fry, Michael Collins, TravelMedia.ie and Liam Ward, Donegal County Council.

The seminar also heard from inspiration speakers including Carolynne Harrison, General Manager of the Shandon Hotel & Spa who wowed the audience with her remarkable story of how she tackled the ‘weaker months’ by being creative and driving up occupancy in the winter and maintaining the jobs of over 120 staff and managing costs to ensure profit margins were on target. 

Social media and digital experts Greg Fry, Co-Founder of Content Plan and Michael Collins enthused the audience with their practical tips and techniques of making social media and digital marketing work for tourism businesses in Donegal.  They believe that content remains king and having clear business goals and a clearly defined strategy producing measurable results is essential for success.

Wild Atlantic Way Client Services Manager for Fáilte Ireland Joan Crawford presented a profile of the Wild Atlantic Way visitor and why they are coming to the west coast of Ireland.  Market research shows that these visitors have no itinerary and they are ‘going where time took us’ drawing on their spontaneous side and looking forward to finding the hidden gems off the beaten track.  This provides a great opportunity for places such as Donegal which for many is still a place of discovery.


The seminar concluded with a strong message from each of the panellists which highlighted the need to continue to collaborate and network.  It is the Donegal experience that visitors want when they come to Donegal and there is a clear willingness among those in the Donegal tourism sector to work together to ensure that Donegal becomes the number one tourism destination in the country.

The Waterfront Hotel Dungloe - The Rosses' First Four Star Hotel

The Waterfront Hotel Dungloe, which opened its doors last year, are delighted to announce that they have received four star status from Fáilte Ireland. Although the hotel has been operating to a four star standard since its inception in August 2016, it was just this week that the hotel's grading became official. The award means the Waterfront Hotel, Dungloe becomes the first hotel in Co. Donegal to open as a four star for almost two decades.

Mary Mc Ginley (Hotel Director) and family: Michael, Bridgit, Tara and Conor
The Waterfront's General Manager, Joseph McColgan and director Mary McGinley invited staff to an impromptu champagne reception at the hotel this afternoon where the news was shared that all the hard work and dedication had paid off and that the hotel was now officially a four star property. Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher and Fáilte Ireland were also singled out for their dedication and support. Mr McColgan also paid tribute to the people of Dungloe and surrounding areas for their support of the hotel over the last year. The Waterfront's proprietor, Kevin Boyle also thanked the team and guests of the hotel from his home in Chicago.

Martina Rafferty (Sales & Marketing Manager) , Pat The Cope Gallagher, Mary Mc Ginley (Hotel Director) , Joseph Mc Colgan (GM) and Bengi Conmy (Executive Chef)
Situated at the site of the former Ostan Na Rossan hotel, overlooking the beautiful Dungloe Bay, the Waterfront Hotel has a brand new look and feel designed to demonstrate a contemporary and forward thinking position on the Wild Atlantic Way. Owner Kevin Boyle along with his cousin Patrick Boyle, have outlined ambitious plans for the very near future of the hotel, focusing on further development including the luxurious, eco-friendly Inis Spa and Health Club. Work is also due to begin very shortly on an extensive organic garden that will supply the hotel with probably the freshest local produce of any professional kitchen in the country.

The Waterfront Team Group Photo
Marketing Manager, Martina Rafferty joined the Waterfront Hotel team almost 6 months ago, offering vast knowledge in the hospitality sector and a wealth of experience from former 5 Star Luxury Leading Hotels of The World.  In a very short space of time Martina has developed a new web site, grown occupancy levels, set up direct target marketing campaigns for the property and steered the hotel in the right directed to achieve the 4 Star grading.  The 4 star property is leading the way and going from strength to strength!   


To celebrate this achievement the hotel has a special overnight package for further details call the Waterfront Hotel reservations team on + 353 (0) 74 95 22 444. Joseph wished to convey a sincere gratitude to the long hours and hard work of the entire Waterfront Hotel team and a special thank you to Bengi Conmy and his team on their achievement of Best Newcomer at the recent Irish Restaurant awards and best seafood chowder award at the Donegal Food Coast.   


For all things Donegal check out: www.govisitdonegal.com

Mary Mc Ginley (Director), Joseph McColgan (GM), Martina Rafferty (Sales & Marketing Manager)