LIFE'S A BEACH; The Blue Flag seaside spots to visit.. if we ever get a summer.
HERE are the best beaches in the country that our miserable weather may stop you visiting this summer.
With long-term forecasts predicting rain we can only hope a trip to one of the country's cleanest coastlines might be on the cards.
A total of 142 beaches around the country were yesterday rewarded for their cleanliness and water quality in this year's An Taisce Blue Flag and National Green Coast Awards.
Environment Minister Phil Hogan announced Blue Flag awards for 82 beaches and two marinas - with another 58 seaside attractions receiving National Green Coast Awards.
This is a record number of accolades in the annual survey carried out by An Taisce.
Minister Hogan said: "The increase in the number of blue flags in 2011 is very welcome and is due to the combined efforts of the Local Authorities and coastal communities on the ground as well as those in the wider catchment who are playing their part in working to improve water quality."
The research also showed anyone looking for the best beaches in the country should go West - with counties Cork, Mayo and Kerry scoring extremely highly.
And it also revealed if the sun ever comes out for a prolonged period this summer beaches all over the country offer punters safe beaches with clean water.
The awards noted a number of spectacular beaches that have cleaned their act up and regained their Blue Flag status. These included Brittas Bay South in Wicklow, Old Head in Mayo, Portrane in Dublin and Youghal front strand in Cork.
Although counties Louth, Wicklow, Wexford and Waterford all scored well, the West coast is definitely the best part of the country for beaches.
Counties Cork, Kerry, Mayo and Donegal all have more than 10 beaches dotted around their coastline that received Blue Flags. But, it was not all good news as Dublin's well-known Dollymount Strand lost its blue flag because the water quality was not up to scratch.
Mullaghmore in Sligo also could Continuing not be awarded the coveted award as it has had ongoing difficulties with livestock roaming along the scenic strand.
Patricia Oliver , of An Taisce, said overall the picture of the country's seaside attractions is very positive.
She added: "We are delighted that 2011 is a record year for An Taisce's Beach Awards.
"The continuing high standards of our beaches are testament to the hard work carried out by Local Authorities throughout the year in order to provide clean and safe beaches for everyone to enjoy."
BEST COASTAL COUNTIES
MAYO - 13 FLAGS Bertra, Carrowmore, Clare Island, Mulranny, Dooega, Doogort, Keem, Keel, Golden Strand, Elly Bay, Mullaghroe, Ross and Oldhead.
KERRY - 13 FLAGS Derrynane, Magherabeg, Ballinskelligs, White Strand-Caherciveen, Kells, Rossbeigh, Inch, Ventry, Fenit, Banna, Ballyheigue, Ballybunion North and Ballybunion South.
DONEGAL - 12 FLAGS Bundoran, Murvagh, Rossnowlagh, Fintra, Narin-Portnoo, Carrickfinn, Marble Hill, Lisfannon, Portsalon, Killahoey, Shroove and Culdaff.
CORK - 11 FLAGS Garryvoe, Garretstown, Garrylucas, Inchydoney, Owenahincha, Warren, Tragumna, and Barleycove, Claycastle, Redbarn and Youghal front stand.
CLARE - 8 FLAGS Doonbeg, Cappagh, Kilkee, White Strand-Miltown Malbay, Lahinch, and Fanore, Ballycuggeran and Mountshannon.
BUNDORAN, CO DONEGAL BERTRA, CO CLARE DERRYNANE, CO KERRY KILKEE, CO CLARE