Mullaghmore, a beach in Co. Sligo, is famed in the west of the country for its strand, though during its busiest season a temporary swimming and bathing ban was been placed on the beach, as reported by the Sligo Champion.
This was done due to harmful bacteria found in the water. Bacteria tested showed indicators that there was “faecal contamination” of the water, with warmings that “elevated levels may cause illness”. The temporary ban was placed on the beach the EPA and HSE as a precautionary measure and ran up until July 19th, when it was lifted after recent testing revealed the water quality was excellent. Investigations are currently underway by the Environment section of Sligo County Council to try and identify the cause of the contamination.
“Investigations are underway to identify any possible polluting discharges and the situation will be kept under review in the coming weeks.”, said a spokesperson to the Sligo Champion.
“There were high levels of intestinal enterococci present in the sample. In order to protect bathers Sligo County Council has erected a notice on the beach which will remain in place until it is proved that there is no risk to bathers.”, he added.
The council say the cost of tackling cattle on the beach is becoming a problem, though cattle are allowed and do frequently graze on the strand. This has always been the case in the area and the beach is in fact, surrounded by commonage lands. This means that faecal matter from cattle has become a regular problem on the beach and it is said to be partially the reason the beach lost its blue flag status in recent years.
“It is a real pity as Mullaghmore should have a blue flag. It is a beautiful beach.”, said Director of Services, Tom Kilfeather.
“The landowners are entitled to have their cattle on commonage. There was fencing put up a number of years ago along side the carpark where the council own land adjoining the beach but this was taken down by persons unknown.” He continued.
Mr. Kilfeather says the only real option would be for the council to purchase all of the surrounding commonage lands, though concedes that this is unlikely to happen as it would be very costly.
“We have had correspondence with landowners and some would consider selling but there is no point in acquiring some of the land.” He noted.
“When you enter into a CPO process you have no way of determining the overall cost. It could go to arbitration where a third party names the price. In any event it would be beyond the resources of Sligo County Council at the moment.” he concluded.