EPA report shows on-going improvement in bathing water quality.Three new bathing waters classified as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ in latest assessment

Date released: May 26 2020

  • 95% of bathing waters (140 of 147) met or exceeded the minimum required standard.  This is up from 94% in 2018
  • Three new bathing waters were classified as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ 
  • Two bathing waters - Inchydoney East Beach in Cork and Cúas Crom in Kerry - were newly identified in 2019
  • Waters at five beaches were classified as poor.

26 May 2020: The EPA has today published the Bathing Water in Ireland report for 2019 which sets out the quality of bathing water at our beaches.  Overall, bathing water quality improved across the country in 2019, although quality did decline at some locations.

Commenting on the report, EPA Director Dr Micheál Lehane said:

“The improvements in bathing water quality are welcome and it is good to see Local Authorities identifying and classifying new bathing waters.  Local authorities must remain vigilant to ensure public health is protected and continue to identify and fix sources of water pollution which impact on our beaches.  The declassification of Merrion Strand after five years at poor status is disappointing and action must be taken to ensure that no other bathing water is declassified in future.”

In summary the key findings in 2019 were:

  • 95% of bathing waters (140 of 147) met or exceeded the minimum required standard.  This is up from 94% in 2018.

107 (73%) were classified as ‘excellent’, up from 103 in 2018
24 (16%) were classified as ‘good’, up from 22 in 2018
9 (6%) were classified as ‘sufficient’, down from 12 in 2018

  • Two bathing waters - Inchydoney East Beach in Cork and Cúas Crom in Kerry - were newly identified in 2019 and will be classified later this year.
  • Three bathing waters, all in Dublin, were classified for the first time. They were:

The Forty Foot Bathing Place (classified as ‘excellent’)
White Rock Beach (classified as ‘excellent’), and
Sandycove Beach (classified as ‘good’).

  • As in 2018 the water quality at five beaches was classified as ‘poor’.  They were:

Merrion Strand, Dublin
Portrane (the Brook) Beach, Dublin
Ballyloughane Beach, Galway
Clifden Beach, Galway, and
Lilliput, Lough Ennell, Westmeath.

  • Merrion Strand was classified as ‘poor’ for five years in a row meaning this bathing water will be declassified as a bathing water in 2020.


Mary Gurrie, EPA Programme Manager added

“Ireland has many beautiful beaches.  Enjoying these natural amenities can be good for our physical and mental wellbeing, and it is therefore essential that Ireland maintains good bathing water quality. Throughout this summer water quality information and details of any incidents affecting bathing waters will be displayed on the www.beaches.ie website.”

However, the EPA is reminding anyone using or swimming at beaches this year to follow the public health advice, the Government Roadmap to Reopening Society and Business, and any local information in relation to the COVID 19 pandemic.

The Bathing Waters in Ireland 2019 report, infographic and a map of the quality of Ireland’s Bathing water sites in 2019 are available on the EPA website.

Further information on bathing water and updates on monitoring results during the bathing water season (1st June to 15th September) are available at www.beaches.ie

Further information: Niamh Hatchell/Emily Williamson, EPA Media Relations Office 053-9170770 (24 hours) or media@epa.ie

Notes to Editor

Bathing season: The designated bathing season in Ireland is from 1st June to 15th September.

Identified Bathing Waters: This is the legal term used for those beaches and lakes managed under the Bathing Water Regulations.  Local authorities are responsible for identifying Bathing Waters within their area annually. The 147 identified bathing waters are either coastal or inland waters widely used by the public for bathing and are monitored, managed and assessed under the requirements of the 2008 Bathing Water Quality Regulations.

Classification: Bathing areas are classified in one of four categories namely ‘Excellent’, ‘Good’, ‘Sufficient’ or ‘Poor’.  The minimum mandatory requirement is for ‘Sufficient’ quality.  Any waters graded as ‘Poor’ require that management measures be put in place to identify and eliminate the sources of pollution.

Assessment: Bathing Waters are classified based on a statistical assessment of monitoring data over a four-year period.

Bathing at sites classified as having ‘Poor’ water quality: The fact that any bathing water has been classified as ‘Poor’ means that there is a risk of microbiological pollution being present which could potentially cause illness such as skin rashes or gastric upset.  Under the Bathing Water Regulations, local authorities are required to put in place notifications for the entire bathing season advising the public against bathing.  This could include a bathing prohibition if a serious pollution incident occurs.