Ireland Excels with 101 Green Flag Awards for Exceptional Public Parks and Green Spaces
The Green Flag Award for Parks was awarded to 101 parks, gardens, grounds and wildlife sanctuaries around the country. The award benchmarks excellence in the management of green spaces which are open free the public. 150 parks were awarded flags today around Europe, with Ireland leading the way.
Once again more Green Flag Awards have been secured by Irish Parks and Gardens than by any country, other than the UK where the scheme originated in 1996. Out of 150 awarded in Europe today, 101 were in Ireland.
This year participating European countries include Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Turkey
Speaking of his park’s award, Maurice O’Connell, Green Flag Project Coordinator, said:
“Having Pairc Cois Feile / Abbeyfeale Town Park awarded an International Green Flag is so special to us, and even more so now that we have managed to achieve 5 in a Row. The feeling of a job well done, of being up there with the best in the world, a feeling of pride and especially for all those who have worked and volunteered to ensure that our Park is a great place to work, volunteer, visit, and just relax. Having our Park awarded an International Green Flag is the best approval one can get for the people and the place.”
Emlyn Cullen – Programme Manager for An Taisce Environmental Education Unit, who run the Award in Ireland said:
“The continued success of the Green Flag Award is due to the love staff members have for their green spaces and the hard work they put in to maintaining them. They do a phenomenal job every day making their parks and gardens beautiful, safe spaces for the public to enjoy.”
The Green Heritage Site Accreditation is an extra award given to sites that showcase their unique landscape and built heritage. With the support of the NPWS and the Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage, 12 Irish Green Flag sites were accredited to Green Heritage Accreditation standard this year.
Minister of State with responsibility for Heritage; Malcolm Noonan, said of the Green Heritage Accreditation:
“I am delighted that the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department supports and co-funds the Green Heritage Site Accreditation Programme. This scheme is a welcome and important complement to the existing Green Flag Award.
The Green Heritage Accreditation enables a larger pool of sites to participate in the programme and highlights the multifaceted nature of our green spaces. The scheme brings together the human and natural aspect of a place. It celebrates best practice in engagement with multi-layered heritage and reminds us all of our responsibility to appreciate and preserve richness and diversity of the green spaces that surround us, now even more important than ever”.
The Green Flag Community Award brings the award to community initiatives such as Community Gardens, Community Parks, and Tidy Towns Projects. By acknowledging the work done by local groups this Community Award helps empower community groups to improve their local area and environment.
In Ireland the Green Flag Community Award Scheme is supported by the Department of Rural and Community Development.
The Minister of State for Community Development and Charities; Joe O’Brien stated that:
“The Department of Rural and Community Development has supported An Taisce with the expansion of the Green Flag since 2018 into community run spaces. By doing this we have been able to leverage the Green Flag Award values and standards for the benefit of our communities and their voluntary work.
I want to thank all community volunteers, across the country for all the work they have done by maintaining the many parks, gardens, and greens across the country. It is a great credit that they have helped deliver this this Green Flag accreditation across Ireland.”
Two award recipients also received special innovation awards.
Lough Gur Lakeshore Park and Visitor Centre in Limerick installed 28 bee lodges to support solidary and native bees. The lodges were funded by Analog Devices showing cross collaboration between industry and parks leading a greater number of people becoming aware of the importance of bees as pollinators. The bee lodges were built by PALLS, as part of the prison education programme showing an inclusive and supportive approach to public park spaces.
Julianstown Community Garden in Meath installed 4 raised beds to demonstrate crop rotation which were made by the local Men’s Shed group. The beds will be used to by the local Primary School in their science lessons and are also visited daily by the local creche. The intention is to sow vegetables in the beds and give them to local residents.
Three of the 2023 applicants were given a special award for their work supporting pollinating insects. The Pollinator Award is jointly run by An Taisce Environmental Education and the National Biodiversity Data Centre, assessing pollinator-friendly management of parks and community spaces against the recommendations of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, which is implemented by the Data Centre.
This year Green Flag Pollinator Awards went to:
Tralee Bay Wetlands Eco & Activity Park
Country Park/ Demesne:
Castletown House & Parklands
Tralee Bay Wetlands Eco & Activity Park
Ballycroy Visitor Centre, Wild Nephin National Park
St. Anne’s Park
Kate Chandler, the Community and Engagement Officer for the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, said:
“We’re so thrilled to see the extensive work taking place for pollinators in this year’s Green Flag Pollinator Award. The winners and highly commended parks are shining examples of how these important green spaces can be managed for the benefit of pollinators and people. We’d like to thank all the applicants for leading the way with their inspiring work and look forward to seeing how it develops in the future.”