The Spanish Armada
and the Wreck of the Girona
Spanish Galleon

In the late 16th century (1588) Philip II of Spain had sent an impressive Armada of over 100 ships to invade England a quarrel between the two countries at the time involved both religion and politics. The Catholic Phillip II and the Protestant Elizabeth I of England where between them for their own ends struggling for control of the Atlantic.

All did not go well for Philip and after a number of encounters with Elizabeth's ships the Spanish fleet fled north in an attempt to round Scotland and Ireland towards the Atlantic. Between September and October severe North Atlantic storms sank almost 30 Spanish ships of the coast of Ireland, many sailors were drowned at sea.

Gold Salamander from the wreck of the Girona A Gold Salamander and cross recovered from the wreck of the Girona, now on display in the Ulster Museum Belfast Gold Cross From the wreck of the Girona

Those who were fortunate enough not to perished at sea where however given no less a violent welcome on Irish soil as the Celtic chieftains murdered the shipwrecked sailors and looted all they could from the stricken galleons. The nearby Dunluce Castle once had two of the ships cannon as part of its defence. On learning of the disaster that had befallen his Armada, Philip II is said to have remarked that he had sent them to do battle with the English, not the elements.

One such Spanish Galleon to flounder was the Girona, sank of the Port na Spanish the ship was found by a Belgian Archaeologist Robert Sténuit. The Girona's treasures having been successfully located and recovered was acquired by the Ulster Museum and forms part of a permanent display

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