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de Cuellar Trail
Causeway Coast




The de Cúellar Armada Trail - Sligo

Map of Sligo AreaRossclogherLurganboyO'Rourke's CastleGlencar LakeStreedagh StrandStaad AbbeyLargydonnell

Click on the map to find out more about the areas de Cúellar's visited on his travels.
Streedagh Strand (1) ( Map | Staad | Glencar | O'Rourke's | Lurganboy | Largydonnell| Rossclogher )
Streedagh Strand

A survivor, Captain Francisco de Cúellar recorded events of 413 years ago, in graphic detail. He documents his shipwreck, on Streedagh the subsequent horrors ashore, and his attempts to find hospitality from friendly chieftains (O’Rourke and McClancy) in the then English garrisoned North Sligo Leitrim, as he tried to make his way back to Spain via Antrim and Scotland.

His account paints a fascinating picture of life and living conditions in this part of Ireland at the time.

“On the fifth day, there sprung up a great storm on our beam, with a sea up to the heavens, so that the cables could not hold nor sails serve us, and we were driven ashore with all three ships upon a beach , covered with very fine sand, shut in on one side and the other by great rocks.”

Staad Abbey (2)( Map | Streedagh | Glencar | O'Rourke's | Lurganboy | Largydonnell | Rossclogher )

Staad Abbey

On returning from the beach, if the visitor walks to the top of the lane directly opposite the Spanish Armada Memorial, as you look across the intervening farmland, it is possible to discern close to the shoreline, the single surviving gable wall of Staad Abbey. To where, on gaining the shore de Cúellar walked in search of help, unfortunately the English had been there before him.

“At dawn of the day I began to walk little by little, searching for a monastery of monks, that I might repair to it as best I could, which I arrived at with much trouble and toil. I found it deserted, and the church and images of the saints burned and completely ruined, and twelve Spaniards hanging in the church by act of the Lutheran English, who went abroad searching for us to make an end to us all who had escaped from the sea.”

Glencar Waterfall(3) ( Map | Streedagh | Staad | O'Rourke's | Lurganboy | Largydonnell | Rossclogher )

At Glencar lake, de Cúellar comes upon a group of unoccupied huts, that it would appear were used for storage of oats. On entering one of these huts he finds that three other Spaniards seeking refuge already occupy it. These are his first contacts with compatriots, since leaving the beach.

“and, reaching the mountain range that they gave me for direction, I met with a lake, around which there were about thirty huts, all forsaken and unoccupied, and there I wished to spend the night.”

O’Rourke’s Castle (Castletown) (4) ( Map | Streedagh | Staad | Glencar | Lurganboy | Largydonnell | Rossclogher )

Here at Castletown, the O’Rourkes of Breffni maintained one of their many strongholds in the district. A “dissident” chieftain, Brian O’Rourke offered shelter and succour to the escaping Spaniards for which amongst other “crimes” against the Crown, he suffered the ultimate punishment, he was executed at Tyburn in London, on 3rd November 1591.

“I arrived at his house with great exertion, enveloped in straw and swathed about the body with matting, in such a plight that no one could see me without being moved to great compassion.”

Lurganboy (5) ( Map | Streedagh | Staad | Glencar | O'Rourke's | Largydonnell | Rossclogher )

De Cúellar was part of a party of twenty Spaniards that went in search of a ship, word of which they had received while staying with O’Rourke. Separated from his compatriots because of injuries sustained in the wrecking, lost and disoriented , he stumbles along in what he hopes is the general direction he should be going.

“Going along thus, lost with much uncertainty and toil, I met by chance with a road along which a clergyman in secular clothing was traveling. He was sorry for me, and spoke to me in Latin, asking me to what nation I belonged and about the shipwrecks that had taken place. God gave me grace that I was able to reply to everything that he asked me in the same Latin tongue; and so satisfied was he with me, that he gave me to eat of that which he carried with him, and he directed me by the right road that I should go to reach a castle, which was six leagues from there.”

Largydonnell (6) ( Map | Streedagh | Staad | Glencar | O'Rourke's | Lurganboy | Rossclogher )

Here in the lonely Glenade Valley, while following the directions given him by the Clergyman, Francisco now falls in with another traveler, who tricks him into going to his forge in the valley where it is his intent to hold de Cúellar captive and force him to work for him.

“I set out there experiencing much trouble on the road, and the greatest, and that which gave me most pain, was that a savage that met me on the way, and by deceiving me, took me to his hut in a deserted valley, where he said I must live all my life, and he would teach me his trade, that of blacksmith.”

Rossclogher Castle (7) ( Map | Streedagh | Staad | Glencar | O'Rourke's | Lurganboy | Largydonnell )


Here at Rossclogher just outside Kinlough on the southern shore of Lough Melvin de Cúellar came under the protection of McClancy with whom he stayed for three months. Maglana, as de Cúellar referred to McClancy, paid like O’Rourke with his life, shot and then beheaded, at Lough Melvin, in 1589.

“The wife of my master was very beautiful in the extreme, and showed me much kindness. One day we were sitting in the sun with some of her female friends and relatives, and they asked me about Spanish matters and of other parts, and in the end it came to be suggested that I examine their hands and tell them their fortunes. Giving thanks to God that it had not gone even worse with me than to be a gypsy among savages, I began to look at the hands of each, and to say to them a hundred thousand absurdities, which pleased them so much that there was no other Spaniard better than I, or than was in greater favour with them.”