Possible Spanish Armada wreck found off Irish coast

A dive survey of a shipwreck discovered in the shallow waters of Burtonport harbor off the coast of Donegal, Ireland, has discovered evidence that the ship was once part of the mighty Spanish Armada that so spectacularly failed to invade England in 1588. The divers found lead shot balls, tunic buttons and Spanish pottery in the hull of the ship. The timbers and copper pins date the ship wreck to the 16th century.

The ship was discovered by Donegal divers Liam Miller, Oscar Duffy and Michael Early almost three years ago but was not publicized to give the underwater archaeologists time to survey the area without interference. There is still a great deal of work to be done in order to identify the vessel as an Armada warship, but the archaeologists surveying the find and the Heritage Ministry believe the find is a major historical significance.

Heritage minister Jimmy Deenihan has granted 50,000 euro for the excavation by the underwater archaeology unit from his department’s National Monuments Service.

He said the discovery was a major find of significance not only to Ireland but also to the international archaeological, historical and maritime communities.

“If, in fact, it proves to be an Armada vessel, it could constitute one of the most intact of these wrecks discovered to date,” he said.

“It could provide huge insight into life on board and the reality of the military and naval resources available to the Armada campaign.”

The 130-ship strong Spanish Armada was defeated by the wee English navy of 60 ships and the treacherous waters of the North Sea. After the English sent fireships into the Spanish fleet, the wind forced the Armada to flee north. The rocky coasts of Ireland and Scotland and the reliably abysmal weather did far more damage than the fireships. Less than 75% of the Spanish Armada made it home.

Between 24 and 26 Spanish Armada ships are thought to have gone down off the Irish coast. Fourteen of them have been found and mapped thus far, five of them off the coast of Donegal.

10 thoughts on “Possible Spanish Armada wreck found off Irish coast

  1. The 130-ship strong Spanish Armada was defeated by the wee English navy of 60 ships

    From everything I’ve read, the English fleet outnumbered the Spanish and their allies. The totals quoted include the armed merchant vessels for the Spanish side but not for the English side. Also, the English had more warships, though their tonnage was less, but they had longer range guns.

  2. The English had smaller swifter ships which carried more ordnance. The Spaniards were no mean sailors but the English had the better of them at Gravelines because they outmaneuvered them.

  3. Truth be told, the Spaniards were ready to attack the English again after Gravelines or to seize an English port. But the wind did not change and they were blown north until they had to decide whether to make for Norway or round Scotland / Ireland – however they were in very bad shape and it’s doubtful whether they could have defeated the English in the state they were in.

  4. History. A very interesting and exciting subject. I see people get crankey to what is commented. However it is just a comment for what really happened way back there will always remain a mistery if if was not documented. Either way, great information is here and keep up this great page.

  5. Sorry but you’re in a mistake. Spaniards were great sailors. They first sailed the Atlantic, Pacific and other seas and won outstanding battles. The Black legend about spaniards is only that, a legend.
    Great Armada was defeated, mainly, by the storm.

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