Armada Survey at Streedagh Completed

Sligo Champion, Wednesday November 6th 2002

A RESEARCH team of British scientists, expert in geophysics and maritime archaeology, completed a survey of the Armada wrecks on Streedagh Beach, Co. Sligo, last week.

Leader of the group was Dr. Doug McElvogue, who has been involved in recent years with the raising of Henry the VIII's 16th century warship the "Mary Rose", in England.

Included on the team was Dr. Jim Burnell of Bangor University, School of Ocean Science, Bournemouth University, also a member of the "Mary Rose Trust". Another member Paola Palma, an Italian studying for her PhD. in maritime archaeology, has considerable research experience in Venice, her hometown.

Co-incidentally, one of the ships beneath the sands of Streedagh, the Lavia, was built in Venice.

This recent survey will determine whether it is possible to see with accuracy what is hidden under the sediment with a view to mapping out the main areas of archaeological deposits. The investigation will also allow a required report to be completed in order to allow the Irish Heritage Service to pay the finders reward to Steve Birch and Alan King. This payment was the subject of High Court proceedings some years ago.

Driven into Donegal Bay by the storms of September 21st 1588 these three ships of the Spanish Armada, La Lavia, La Juliana and the Santa Maria de Vision, anchored off Streedagh Strand, Co. Sligo. During a further heavy storm on September 25th all three ships were driven ashore and wrecked. Up to 1,100 aboard these ships died cruelly here on Streedagh beach. One survivor Capt. Francisco de Cuellar wrote an account of his adventures in Sligo, his journey to MacClancy's Castle in Leitrim and his eventual departure from the Causeway Coast of North Antrim.

The wrecks were rediscovered in 1985 by the "Streedagh Armada Group" headed by Steve Birch and Alan King who were instrumental in raising cannon and artefacts from the seabed. Some of these are now on view in the National Museum of Ireland.