Famous Armada Shipwrecks
One of the most impressive Armada wrecks lies off the North Antrim
coast. La Girona sank on the morning of 26th October 1588 and it
was her discovery by the Belgian marine archaeologist Robert Senuit
that probably rekindled interest in the Armada.
|The Girona was a galleas, powered by sail
and oar. Capable of carrying 500 men, she was the flagship of the
Naples Squadron under the direct command of Hugh de Moncado. Her captain
was Italian Fabricio Spinola of Genoa - and her complement included
120 Spanish officers. As well as cannon, she carried 8,000 pieces
|At the time of her wreck, the Girona was carrying 1,300
men including survivors of other ships, commanded by Don Alonzo Martinez
de Leiva whom de Cúellar describes as a “gallant captain.” Badly overladen
she struck a reef at La Cada Point and sank almost immediately. Only
5 of her crew survived.
( The Girona )
A refitted and refurbished 1,100-tonne Venetian merchantman,
La Trinidad Valencera, captained by Don Alonzo de Luzon was one
of the larger Armada transports.
On board, she carried three large siege guns donated by Philip
II and designed by the noted Belgian gunsmith Remigy de Halut.
She also carried numerous ceramic firepots known as bomba, crammed
with flammable material which could be thrown amongst the sails
of English shipping, and devices which could throw shrapnel amongst
the sailors. She had 42 guns, one battery of which has been recovered.
Large and unwieldy, La Trinidad Valencera was the first Armada
ship to run aground in Ireland. Badly damaged by heavy seas, she
struck a reef in Kinnagoe Bay, near Malin Head, North Donegal on
16th September 1588. De Luzon had to pay the local O’Dohertys, 200
ducats to hire boats to bring his men from the stricken vessel.
He then marched them overland to a castle where he was told there
were Spanish sympathisers. Instead he found the place occupied by
Irish mercenaries loyal to the English and a battle ensued.
Eventually the Spaniards were persuaded to lay down their arms,
march south to Dublin where they were to surrender to the English
Deputy. On the way, they were robbed and beaten and several of their
nobles were shot. 150 Spaniards managed to escape to Scotland but
100 were held in Dublin castle.
Whilst being transported on another ship, they managed to seize
control and sailed home to Spain. The wreck of the Valencera was
discovered in February 1971 by members of Derry Sub-Aqua Club.