Even though the Armada had failed in the English Channel, its terrible end on the Irish coast had ironic consequences as it had destabilised the North-West and helped usher in the Nine Years War (1594-1603) during which the Irish leaders sought Spanish assistance against England.
Lord Deputy Fitzwilliam, who made a looping march through Connacht and Ulster in late 1588 said that he saw enough wreckage to build ‘five of the greatest ships that ever I saw’. Since his main interest was getting his grubby hands on Spanish gold, it was probably left to others to salvage the boats, cables, cordage and masts littering the shoreline. Yet it is plain from contemporary maps that parts of the ships remained visible out to sea for years until they eventually disappeared beneath the waves.
More specifically (and urgently):
If the Government is any way serious about the Wild Atlantic Way project, this exactly is the sort of thing that must be accomplished. The other big Armada discoveries, La Trinidad Valencera in Inishowen and La Girona in north Antrim – were also big Mediterranean vessels.
They were stuffed full of artefacts and the results have been a new museum in Derry and the transformation of the Ulster Museum from a significant provincial repository into one of international importance because it now houses the Armada’s gold. Those finds and their display are part of reason I became a historian of this period.
At Streedagh we have three such ships to dig out and exhibit.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty