05.08.11 Minister Deenihan Announces Funding for Excavation of Possible Spanish Armada Wreck in Rutland Harbour, Co. Donegal
Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, today (5th August 2011) announced funding of €50,000 for an exploratory excavation of a possible Spanish Armada wreck, newly discovered near Burtonport, County Donegal.
The Minister has revealed that, in the course of a dive survey last year by the Underwater Archaeology Unit from his Department’s National Monuments Service, evidence was uncovered indicating that the wreck was likely to be 16th-century ship and possibly part of the 1588 Spanish Armada.
As the latest excavation gets underway, the Minister said that he was “delighted” to be able to support investigations into “a major find of significance not only to Ireland but also to the international archaeological, historical and maritime communities”. If, in fact, it proves to be an Armada vessel, the Minister said that it could constitute one of the most intact of these wrecks discovered to date. “It could provide huge insight into life on board and the reality of the military and naval resources available to the Armada campaign”, he added.
The location of the wreck in relatively shallow water will give the Department’s Underwater Archaeology team better than usual access to the vessel itself and to any artefacts that may still be on board.
The Minister said he was delighted that his Department was in a position to proceed with the project this year, notwithstanding the generally difficult funding situation. He acknowledged the high degree of co-operation between the National Monuments Service and the National Museum of Ireland which has committed to supporting the project by taking on responsibility for care and conservation of any artefacts that may be recovered.
The Minister also noted the important contribution of the Geological Survey of Ireland/INFOMAR. The GSI is supplying one of its research vessels, the RV Keary, free of charge as the main dive vessel. It will also carry out detailed marine geophysical surveys in the vicinity of the wreck.
INFOMAR (INtegrated Mapping FOr the Sustainable Development of Ireland’s MARine Resource) is an ambitious joint venture, between the Geological Survey of Ireland and the Marine Institute to create a range of integrated mapping products of the physical, chemical and biological features of the seabed in the near-shore area.