La Trinidad Valencera artefacts to be exhibited in Inishowen for first time after 50 years

Fifty years after a historic dive into the turbulent waters of Kinnagoe Bay, some of the artefacts recovered from the wreck of the Spanish Armada ship, La Trinidad Valencera, are to be exhibited in Inishowen.
One of the cannon recovered from the site of the Armada wreck.One of the cannon recovered from the site of the Armada wreck.
One of the cannon recovered from the site of the Armada wreck.

Inishowen Maritime Museum has negotiated an extended loan of the items from National Museums of Northern Ireland and their exhibition is to be launched on Friday, June 17 at the Museum in Greencastle.

It was a dank and cold February day in 1971, when a group from Derry Sub-Aqua Club decided it was too much to trek (as they’d done for the previous three years) to the far (east) end of Kinnagoe Bay, where all the historical records indicated the wreck lay – the equipment was heavy, it was a horrid day, and there were novice divers among them.

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So, they dived near the car park, at the west end – and then their fun and practice was interrupted – one of the divers surfaced, yelling “We’ve found a cannon” – and then they found another – several, and over the next twelve years much more.

Their story was told in a BBC Chronicle documentary, showing how they learned underwater archaeological techniques and devised ways of bringing safely to land, items, some weighing tons, that had been rolling underwater for almost 400 years and much of which was waterlogged and saturated with salt.

From an early stage, the club had an ambition that their finds would find a home in a local museum, and to an extent this has been so. The collection was lodged in the Ulster Museum and the most important bulk is on show at the Tower Museum in Derry. However, at least some of the divers had a wish that there should be some representation of their work closer to the wreck site – as one of them said “I’d like to see them all established here, in a local museum, so that the local people can benefit, and, perhaps, I can take my children to see the work that we done, and perhaps encourage other people to do similar work.”

And so, after fifty, actually fifty-one years, that wish is about to be fulfilled. The launch on 17 th June will be conducted by Fergus Gillespie, former Chief Herald of Ireland and an expert on Spanish-Irish relationships, and will take place, in the context of a celebration of the divers and of the place where

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La Trinidad Valencera ended, during a weekend that will see also a heritage tour under the auspices of the ‘Lands of Eogain’ heritage group and a consideration of biodiversity, hosted by The Inishowen Rivers Trust.

For further details see