Donabate locals swear they’ll get Blue Flag back

by Sylvia Pownall

A GROUP of volunteers in Donabate have vowed to redouble their efforts in a bid to reclaim the beach’s Blue Flag status.
An Taisce confirmed that the popular strand had lost the prestigious international award due to a drop in annual bathing water classification, from excellent to good.
Olive Gilsenan, a volunteer with the Portrane Donabate Clean Coast Group, told The Gazette: “We knew it was coming, but I was still a bit gutted when I saw it gone.
“It’s going to take four years to get the flag back, but we can do it if the community helps and if the council does its bit. I won’t stop until that Blue Flag is back.”
With two other Fingal beaches classed as ‘poor’ Cllr Paul Mulville (Ind) said: “We have to get to the bottom of the water quality issue.”
FOUR Skerries men are hoping to make history this summer – by crossing the Irish Sea on paddle boards.
The gruelling 20-hour challenge will see them travel 100km to Holyhead and their aim is to raise funds for the RNLI.
One of the four, Peter Carroll, says they’re committed to the task but did not realise what they had talked themselves into until they started training in earnest.
He told The Gazette: “My uncle [Liam McMahon] was the first person to windsurf across the Irish Sea, in 1984. I’ve been into paddling for years and always wanted to do the same journey.
“We’ve been training for the last seven or eight months. It’s a big challenge – we’re only realising how big it is the more we train. We hope to go in August once the weather conditions are right.”
Peter owns and runs the Outdoor Dublin water sport school and has trained as a lifeguard and a paddle board instructor.
He said: “It’ll take around 20 hours of paddling, so it will be tough on the body for sure. The point of it is to raise awareness about water safety and it will be nice to raise money for the RNLI because they do an amazing job.
“My father and uncle were RNLI volunteers so there is a family connection.”
Each of the four men – Peter, Killian Walsh, John Kieran and Stephen Sherwin – will be followed by a safety boat in case anything goes wrong, and they will also help with navigation across what is a busy shipping route.
Peter said: “It is like a large surf board which you stand up on and you use a paddle to get around on it, so it’s not like windsurfing because there’s no sail. Hawaiians used to use them a lot.
“People here have started using paddle boards again as a way of keeping fit as it’s a great way of using all your muscles. It’s very relaxing to just switch off and paddle around the harbour after a day’s work.”
Peter says they’re not too concerned about jellyfish and other marine life – but dehydration, over-exertion and literally getting cold feet as a result of having them immersed in water are things to look out for.
“We are learning as we go,” he said. “We’ve all been working hard – even when the ground was freezing and there was ice on the water, we were out there paddling.”
A fundraising page will be set up in coming weeks, so watch this space …

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