Nealon Aims for Special Armada Museum for Sligo

Minister of State for Arts and Culture, Ted Nealon said this morning that his objective would be a special Armada Museum for Sligo.

The appropriate thing to do would be to have the ship and artefacts on view to the public near the area where they were located, he said. If the Streedagh find turns out to be the major discovery expected then this would justify a special museum. The immediate task, however, is one of protection and preservation. In this respect the Government has already made a preservation order. The effect of this is the same as making the site a national monument. No one can now interfere with it, without permission. What has been discovered now is thought to be only the beginning- what was visible over the sand. The excavation work will be a slow and particularly difficult job because of the shifting sands, The next stage will be to plot out the best course of action in the light of international experience, Minister Nealon said.

He added that there was no difficulty about ownership. The State would have full rights over the ship and artefacts.

All the evidence so far seems to suggest a very exciting find, he said, adding that it could form the basis for a special museum. In addition to the Juliana and the hoped for treasures that would be found, it should be possible to build up an interesting folk museum on life in the North Western area around that period.

The Streedagh discovery was mentioned briefly in the Dail on Tuesday. Minister of State, Ted Nealon, when being pressed for aims for the Maritime Museum in Dun Laighoire said he had many such requests from around the country for museums, including a number of telephone calls from his own constituency that morning about the discovery of the Armada shipwrecks at Streedagh.

Deputy Ray McSharry later asked the Minister if it was his intention to take any initiative regarding the setting up of a fund to finance the cost of ongoing development there. The Minister replied that at the moment the emphasis was on preservation and this involved the Office of Public Works. Naturally this was something in which he had a great interest. He would be very keen to see these artefacts on display near the location where they were found. Mr McSharry asked did the Minister intend to Minister of State in this area to take any initiative rather than leaving it to the Office of Public Works.

Minister Nealon said he would assure the House that any initiative possible would be taken by him in this respect. He had a particular interest in the matter and applauded the speed at which the people of Sligo contacted him early on that morning with a view to doing something about it. Deputy McSharry said he hoped the Minister would do something about it and so did the people of Sligo.