17/06/2015: Minister Humphreys visits dive site as new material from Spanish Armada is recovered off Sligo coast
Wednesday, 17 June 2015—The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys, T.D., has today (Wednesday) announced that newly exposed material from the Spanish Armada wrecks off the coast of Streedagh in Co. Sligo is being recovered by her Department’s National Monuments Service, and will be conserved by the National Museum of Ireland.
Minister Humphreys is visiting the dive site this morning, where members of her Department’s Underwater Archaeology Unit are securing and recovering material dating back to 1588, when three Spanish Armada vessels were shipwrecked off the Sligo coast. It is believed the material became exposed as a result of the major storms off the West coast over the last two years.
Minister Humphreys said:
“My Department first became aware that some new material from the Armada wrecks may have been uncovered in April of this year, following reports from the local community and the Grange Armada Development Association that large numbers of ships timbers were being washed ashore. Since April, my Department has put an action plan in place to carry out dive surveys and safeguard the site.
“We have uncovered a wealth of fascinating and highly significant material, which is more than 425 years old. The National Monuments Service believes that all of the material has come from La Juliana, one of the three Armada ships wrecked off this coastline in 1588. On current evidence, the other two wreck sites remain buried beneath a protective layer of sand, but the wreck of La Juliana is now partly exposed on the seabed along with some of its guns and other wreck material.
“This material is obviously very historically and archaeologically significant. My Department’s priority is to safely recover the artefacts, so they can be conserved and safeguarded by the National Museum, whilst at the same time also recording the wider wreck site.
“I would like to sincerely thank the local community in Streedagh, who have been extremely supportive of this project. They have helped to keep watch over the site, and I am very grateful for their ongoing support. I would also like to particularly thank the Grange Armada Development Association and Sligo Sub Aqua Club for their vigilant work.
“My Department is now working with the National Museum to devise a strategy to safeguard and manage the site and in particular the remains ofLa Juliana. Recovering all of the exposed material will take a number of weeks. The Gardaí will continue to monitor the site as this work is carried out.”
The material being recovered includes a number of cannon, which are described as being in excellent condition. Two of the cannon have been lifted, one of which bears a dedication to and depiction of St Matrona who is particularly venerated by the people of Catalonia and Barcelona. The cannon also bears the date 1570, the year La Juliana was constructed, putting the identity of the ship beyond doubt. The recovery operation is expected to last a number of weeks.