A special series of events has been held to remember one of the Causeway Coast and Glens area’s most remarkable maritime stories.
La Girona, a galleass of the Spanish Armada, sank at Lacada Point near the Giant’s Causeway in October 1588.
Most of the 1400 people on board perished and a huge amount of gold was lost. The treasure lay undiscovered until 50 years ago when a team of divers raised a huge hoard from the wreck.
The unique collection, which included many ornate pieces of jewellery, is on display in the Ulster Museum.
To mark the anniversary of the recovery of the Girona Gold, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Council Maura Hickey, led events at a number of key locations which tell the story.
The aim was to reflect on the historical significance of La Girona while remembering all those who died.
The series of events began with a poignant wreath-laying at the Giant’s Causeway, attended by the Mayor of Sligo, Councillor Marie Casserly.
This was followed by an ecumenical service in the grounds of St Cuthbert’s Church. Around 260 bodies were recovered from the sea following the sinking of La Girona, and they are buried in the grounds of the ruin in an unmarked grave.
A new stone dedicated to the lost souls who perished at sea was unveiled. It features an image of a salamander, in homage to one of the most noteworthy pieces of treasure recovered from the wreckage - a gold salamander set with rubies. It is particularly poignant because it was a favoured wartime talisman due to the mythical salamander’s powers of protection.
Events were brought to a conclusion with a celebration evening held at the Causeway Visitor Centre where Michael Rooney performed his composition ‘The de Cuéllar Suite’ named after sea captain and Armada survivor Francisco de Cuéllar. A heritage trail is named after him in Sligo, and it’s hoped as the legacy continues that this will incorporate locations in Causeway Coast and Glens.
Earl of Antrim, Hector McDonnell also gave an informative talk while Dr Bob Curran, historian and Chairman of the North Coast Armada Connection, produced a 4-page comic strip which recounts the story of La Girona.