A community group in Cooley have been awarded with win an Ocean Hero Award in recognition of the trojan work they undertake throughout the year to keep their local coastlines free from rubbish. Cooley Community Alert Peninsula Marine won the Group of the Year award for 2021 at the annual awards which recognise the contributions Clean Coast volunteers make towards cleaning up Ireland’s coastline.
Michael Muckian who is a founding member and current chairman of the Cooley Community Alert Peninsula Marine group was understandably thrilled following the announcement.
“Cooley Community Alert were formed 20 years ago as a community alert group on the Cooley Peninsula in and in 2018 expanded to set up our Marine litter project. This expansion sees us cleaning the coastline from Bellurgan just north of Dundalk right through to Carlingford,” explained Michael.
“We’ve been doing this for a few years now and it is nice to get recognition for all the hard work our dedicated volunteers put in week in week out to try and keep our beautiful coastline free from rubbish.
There are seven people on the committee and a lot more volunteers who give freely their own time to come out and fill bin bags full of rubbish from Bellurgan right up to Omeath. Unfortunately, the amount of rubbish that gets washed up on our beaches and coastlines is substantial and as well as all the plastics etc you also get drums of oil, lorry tyres and all sorts washed up.
“We meet up all year round but are at our busiest between March and November when we might meet up a couple of times a week. We fill lots and lots of bin bags full of rubbish each time and you would be amazed at how quickly the rubbish reappears after we gather it all up.
“Last year we reached out to a few environmental agencies and managed to secure a quad and a trailer for our group which makes it a lot easier to collect the full bin bags and take them off the beach. Pre-covid we would separate the rubbish and recycle everything that could be recycled but with restrictions we are not able to do that right now.
“I want to give a big shout out to all our volunteers and helpers and the transition year students in Bush secondary who regularly help us out. We actually sponsor a number of transition year students who are taking part in the Gaisce Awards. We all love where we live and we do this because we want to maintain the natural beauty that surrounds us,” stated Michael.
Clean Coasts manager Sinead McCoy congratulated the award winners and the three dozen groups and individuals that were shortlisted.
“The Clean Coasts programme’s Ocean Hero Awards have been celebrating the incredible efforts of volunteers around the Irish Coastline since 2006,” she said.
“Although 2021 has been challenging at times it has been an incredible year for Clean Coasts and our network has grown so much and shown an incredible amount of dedication and care for our beaches, coastline, marine life and oceans. We were delighted to have received so many inspirational nominations that show not only the true dedication of these coastal custodians, but also that their efforts don’t go unnoticed by the community.”