Tuesday, 7 June 2011

La Girona... and Dunluce


This is the second of three posts dealing with replica 16th century ships...

Scratch that - this post has little to do with replicas at all. In this post I wanted to show a couple of pictures of the armament from the Spanish galleass, La Girona, on display in the Ulster Museum (incidentally, for a regional museum, the Ulster Museum in Belfast is pretty fantastic and well worth the visit <http://www.nmni.com/um/Collections/World-Cultures/The-Armada-Collection>). Of the 130 Spanish ships that set out in 1588 to invade England, over 20 of them were wrecked off the North and West coasts of Ireland.The Ulster Museum owns the excavated remains of three of these ships, the galleass La Girona which was wrecked at Lacada Point, near the Giant's Causeway, Co. Antrim, La Trinidad Valencera which ran aground in Kinnagoe Bay, Co. Donegal and the Santa Maria de La Rosa which sank suddenly in Blasket Sound, Co. Kerry.

There are no known representations of the Girona but other galleass’ are shown on the famous Greenwich Armada Cartoon which probably gives a fairly accurate representation of her original state.
The Greenwich Cartoon



The Girona had an original armament of 50 cannon. More than forty guns were abandoned in Killybeg Harbour when the Girona picked up 1,300 survivors of other wrecked vessels (she was originally designed to take a total complement of 500). When she was wrecked at Lacada, Sorely Boy McDonnall, the head of the Antrim Scots (1505-1590), salvaged three or four of the ship’s guns to defend the landward approach of his castle at nearby Dunluce. He also used treasures recovered from the wreck site to modernise the rest of his defences.

Three further guns from the Girona were recovered from the sea in 1968 and are now housed in Belfast.



One of the other ‘gems’ (mind the pun there) of the Ulster Museum Armada collection is a ruby studded gold salamander – probably made from Aztec gold – which was missed by Sorely Boy during his scavenging but speaks bundles of the wealth carried by the armada.

To finish off, I thought I’d post a few shots of Sorely Boy’s castle at Dunluce on Antrim's north coast (©Nicholas Wright) – my favourite castle by a long shot. It has all the atmosphere of Tintagel with more visible remains.







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