International Accreditation for Park Excellence in Ireland has jumped again this year, during a season which has seen massive park visitor increases everywhere. Ireland notably achieves a huge increase in urban park Green Flag accreditations across Dublin, Galway, and Waterford Cities.
The announcement also saw the further expansion of the scheme to include new types of public green spaces. In Waterford the country’s first Greenway was accredited, and in Cavan a UNESCO Global Geopark become a Green Flag Award Site for the first time.
Numbers of International Green Flag Award Sites for the best parks and gardens to visit in Ireland have surged again this year. New green flag parks and gardens, accredited by teams of trained volunteer judges, include for the first-time sites from Counties Cavan, Donegal, and Waterford.
Only awarded for exceeding tough environmental standards in green space management, and excellence of visitor attractions – the Green Flag Award for Parks is the mark of a quality park or green space and is recognised throughout the world.
Today, An Taisce revealed the parks and green spaces that have been awarded a prestigious Green Flag Award for 2020.
We can now celebrate 84 Irish Parks and Gardens from across the Republic of Ireland receiving their 2020 Green Flags.
From among 15 countries whose parks met the standard this year there were once again more Green Flag Awards secured by Irish Parks and Gardens than by any country, other than the UK where the scheme originated in 1996.
This year participating countries included:
Australia, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
The 2020 awards were available to public town parks, country parks, gardens, cemeteries, nature parks and green spaces from across the whole country.
This year has also seen the number of Green Flag Community Award sites in Ireland more than double from last year. Additional community run parks and gardens were accredited in Counties Carlow, Donegal, Fingal – North County Dublin, Kildare, Galway, Roscommon, and Wexford. In all 14 amenities maintained by community groups are being acknowledged for the excellence of their volunteer run community green spaces.
The Green Flag Community Award extends the Scheme to include community initiatives such as Community Gardens, Community Parks, and Tidy Towns Projects. By providing our community green spaces with access to Green Flag Award best practice we empower community groups to improve their local community and environment. In Ireland the coordination of the Green Flag Community Award Scheme is made possible by the support of the Department of Rural and Community Development.
The Minister of State for Community Development and Charities; Joe O’Brien stated that; “This year we have appreciated the importance of the public parks and gardens within our communities probably more than at any other time. They have supported us all in maintaining a significant quality of life during restrictions, uncertainty, and upset. Without our public parks and gardens our lives would have been much further reduced and confined. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the hard work put in by park staff, and community volunteers, across the country. Not only in achieving this Green Flag Success for Ireland today, but in maintaining the many parks, gardens, and greens across the country for our mutual benefit. It is a great credit that they largely remained open and well managed at this difficult time.”
The Green Flag Awards are judged every year by a peer jury of green space experts, who volunteer their time to visit applicant sites and assess them against eight strict criteria, including horticultural standards, cleanliness, sustainability, and community involvement.
“I think that now our public parks are more valued than ever it is time to start appreciating them as investments in the future. Any funding spent on parks is repaid by them in terms of our quality of life, health, and happiness. They also provide us with the ability to adapt to the unexpected in an increasingly urban environment, and uncertain World” said Robert Moss, the Green Flag Award for Parks Manager for the Republic of Ireland.
Robert Moss also noted that the Green Flag Community Award element of the scheme is supported by the Department of Rural and Community Development because “it builds a very constructive conduit for information, knowledge and skill share between the professional and voluntary green space management sectors within our society”.
Four of the 2020 Green Flag Award winning parks were also identified by the National Biodiversity Data Centre for an additional Pollinator Project Award. This award is specifically for those Green Flag Parks or Gardens that have made an effort to support the local pollinating insect populations, or to promote their importance. The Pollinator Project Award is jointly run with An Taisce Environmental Education to support the All Ireland Pollinator Plan, and is kindly sponsored by Young’s Nurseries. While there are pollinator project awards across different park categories it was Maynooth Campus, that was the overall winner. This site features not only pollinator friendly planting and gardening, but also makes a great effort to educate the public and to promote these efforts through its website and social media.
The full list of the 2020 Green Flag Award winning parks within the Republic of Ireland is as follows:
2020 Green Flag Awards:
Abbeyfeale Community Leisure Ltd – Páirc Cois Féile / Abbeyfeale Park
• Cavan County Council – Cavan Burren Park
• Clare County Council – John O’Sullivan Park / Tim Smythe Park / Vandeleur Walled Gardens
• Donegal County Council – Barrack Hill Town Park
• Dublin City Council – Albert College Park / Blessington Street Park / Bushy Park / Father Collins Park / Herbert Park / Markievicz Park / Poppintree Park / Saint Anne’s Park / Saint Audoen’s Park / Saint Patrick’s Park / Weaver Park
• Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council – Blackrock Park / Cabinteely Park / Marlay Park / People’s Park
• Fingal County Council – Ardgillan Demesne / Malahide Demesne / Millennium Park / Newbridge House and Farm / Santry Demesne / Saint Catherine’s Park
• Galway City Council – Children’s Millennium Park / Quinncentennial Park
• Kerry County Council – Childers Park & Woodlands / Tralee Town Park
• Kildare County Council – Liffey Linear Park, Newbridge
• Laois County Council – Páirc an Phobail, Portlaoise / Peoples’ Park, Portarlington
• Limerick Council – The Peoples Park, Limerick
• Longford County Council – The Mall
• Louth County Council – Blackrock Community Park / Ice House Hill Park / Saint Helena Park / Saint Dominic’s Park
• Maynooth University / Saint Patrick’s College – Maynooth Campus
• Mayo County Council – Jackie Clarke Collection Heritage Garden / Turlough Park
• NPWS – Connemara National Park / Killarney House and Gardens / Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park
• National University of Ireland Galway – National University of Ireland Galway Campus
• North Mayo Heritage Centre – Enniscoe
• Offaly County Council – Lloyd Town Park Tullamore
• OPW – Castletown Demesne / Derrynane Historic Park / Fota Arboretum & Gardens / Garinish Island / Grangegorman Military Cemetery / Irish National War Memorial Gardens / The Iveagh Gardens / The Phoenix Park / Saint Stephen’s Green
• Sport Ireland National Sports Campus – Sport Ireland Campus
• South Dublin County Council – Corkagh Park / Rathfarnham Castle Park / Sean Walsh Park / Tymon Park / Waterstown Park
• Waterford City and County Council – Kilbarry Nature Park / Waterford Greenway
• Westmeath County Council – Mullingar Town Park
• Wexford County Council – Pearse Park, New Ross / The New Ross Library Park
• Wicklow County Council – Glendalough Cemetery
Green Heritage Site Accreditation:
• OPW – Irish National War Memorial Gardens
2020 Green Flag Community Awards:
• County Carlow – Bagenalstown Town Park
• County Donegal – The River Walk Dungloe
• Fingal (North County Dublin) – The Rock Garden
• County Galway – Headford Community Garden / Headford Community Orchard / Ballyglunin Railway Restoration Project
• County Kildare – Zero Waste Community Garden
• County Mayo – Ballina Karen Community Garden / Ballyhaunis Community Garden / Kilmaine Community Garden
• County Meath – Julianstown Community Garden
• County Roscommon – Knockvicar Organic Garden / Ballaghaderreen Community Garden
• County Wexford – Le Chéile Park
2020 Pollinator Project Award:
Maynooth University / Saint Patrick’s College – Maynooth Campus
• Country Park:
OPW: Castletown Demesne
• Town Park:
Maynooth University / Saint Patrick’s College Maynooth Campus
• Walled Garden:
OPW – Victorian Walled Garden, The Phoenix Park
• Community Award:
County Galway – Headford Community Orchard
• Highly Commended / Special Award:
Dublin City Council – Saint Anne’s Park
Fingal County Council – Millennium Park
Waterford City and County Council – Kilbarry Nature Park