Grange and Armada Development Association is delighted to welcome Fionnbarr Moore and Karl Brady to Sligo for the Lecture Series during the Celtic Fringe Festival 2016

Fionnbarr Moore is a senior archaeologist with the National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht and he has been head of the Underwater Archaeology Unit (UAU) since 1999. The UAU has a wide and varied work brief, dealing with development impacts on the underwater cultural heritage and maintaining the Shipwreck Inventory of Ireland. Investigation of sites also forms part of the work and UAU archaeologists have directed a number of dive surveys and excavations at significant wreck sites off our coast and in our inland waterways. Fionnbarr is chair of the European Archaeological Consilium’s Underwater Cultural Heritage Working Group (EAC UCH WG) and he is also a council member of the Royal society of Antiquaries of Ireland (RSAI). He has contributed papers and chapters to a number of journals and books on underwater archaeology and maritime history. As well as the above he has a particular interest in the Early Medieval and Medieval periods and has published a number of papers on early inscriptions and on the results of major excavations at Ardfert Cathedral, Co. Kerry, which he directed on behalf of the National Monuments Service. He is currently directing the UAU investigation of the Spanish Armada wreck sites at Streedagh, Co. Sligo.

The Armada in Sligo: An update on the Armada wreck La Juliana and her ordnance + the wreck known as the Butter Boat at Streedagh revealed

This lecture will present an illustrated update on research undertaken by Fionnbarr Moore, Karl Brady and Connie Kelleher on the bronze cannons, gun- carriage wheels, bronze cauldron and other elements of the wreck of La Juliana that were recorded and excavated by the underwater Archaeology Unit (UAU) of the National Monuments Service (NMS) in the course of its work at Streedagh in 2015. The finds from the excavation confirmed that the wreck was undoubtedly that of La Juliana, the Catalan merchant vessel commandeered by Philip II to form part of his Armada’s Levant squadron.   The visible elements of the La Juliana site were surveyed in detail and other aspects of the wreck, including structural elements, Iberian pottery, cannon balls and two anchors, were recorded in the process. The history of La Juliana will be presented, illustrating also how it might have looked originally. An update will be given on the on-going conservation of the excavated material in the National Museum of Ireland’s conservation facility in Collins Barracks, Dublin and an update will also be provided on recent research carried out by the UAU on these artefacts.

The Butter Boat: dating and provenance: Recent dendrochronological analysis of the Butter Boat, commissioned by the UAU has indicated a date and provenance for the boat that ties in with a number of historical accounts relating to a particular 18th century wrecking event at Streedagh. While it can now be said with certainty that the Butter Boat is not associated with the Spanish Armada, the story is still a dramatic one, involving a hazardous sea voyage that gives great insight into the dangers and challenges faced by mariners on the west coast of Ireland during the period in question. The results of these latest findings will also be presented as part of the update on the UAU’s work at Streedagh.


Karl Brady is an archaeologist who has been working in the Underwater Archaeology Unit of the National Monuments Service since 1999. Karl has responsibility for the management of the Shipwreck Inventory of Ireland and has undertaken surveys of several shipwrecks. Karl has published a number of articles on early maps, medieval ship graffiti, early medieval ecclesiastical remains, heritage management, logboats and shipwrecks and has also published two books on shipwrecks entitled The Shipwreck Inventory of Ireland: Louth, Meath, Dublin & Wicklow in 2008 and Warships, U-boats & Liners: A Guide to Shipwrecks Mapped in Irish Waters in 2012. More recently Karl has been directing the underwater archaeological excavations of a number of newly discovered logboats from Lough Corrib Co. Galway and is part of the UAU team investigating the Spanish Armada wreck sites at Streedagh, Co. Sligo.

The Armada in Mayo:

Mayo’s long standing maritime tradition is as strong today as it ever was and manifests itself in many ways ranging from active coastal communities and recreational use of the sea to a vibrant fishing industry. One of the most important aspects of this tradition is its maritime cultural heritage and in this regard of particular interest are the wrecks of the Spanish Armada which lie scattered along its jagged coastline. It’s estimated that up 6 Armada vessels lie lost in the waters off the Mayo coast but the location and identity of many of these wrecks has yet to be revealed. This talk will provide an overview of the known archaeological, historical and folkloric information regarding each wreck site with a particular focus on the better known examples of La Rata Santa Maria Encoronada, lost in Blacksod Bay and El Gran Grin, lost in Clew Bay. The talk will also give an illustrated overview of recent dive and geophysical surveys carried out by the UAU in an attempt to locate the sites of these elusive wrecks!


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