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Follow the Footsteps of the Spanish Armada in Donegal

4th – 5th August 2018, Ardara

The Ardara GAP Heritage and History Group have two exciting upcoming events to commemorate the 430th anniversary of the Spanish Armada in Donegal.

The first event is planned for the Bank Holiday weekend in August: 4th and 5th August.

The group is organising a 16th century style re-enactment walk from Kiltoorish, Rosbeg (south-west Donegal) to Killybegs,  Re-enactment walk of the survivors of La Duquesa Santa Ana, one of twenty-six or so Spanish Armada ships wrecked off the Atlantic coast of Ireland between September and October 1588. Their plan was to escape their ordeal and board another Spanish Armada ship, La Girona, which had been forced into Killybegs to undertake repairs as a consequence of the storms that raged off the Irish coast in the autumn of 1588.

Nine hundred survivors marched 30km from Rosbeg to Killybegs to board the ill-fated Girona, which sunk with the loss over one thousand lives off Lacada Point, Co. Antrim while attempting to sail to Scotland in the hope of getting back to Spain. We will be following the probable route of the survivors of La Duquesa Santa Ana under the captaincy of Don Alonzo de Leyva, second-in-command of the Armada and commander of the shipwrecked La Rata Santa Maria Encoronada until he commandeered the Duquesa Santa Ana in Blacksod Bay, Mayo.

The route we will be taking is along track, main and minor roads. As part of this walk, we will be placing specially commissioned stone memorials to mark this human tragedy story.

One will be located on the pier at Rosbeg and a matching one in Killybegs. There will be family friendly stretches along the route and all walkers are encouraged to gather at Common School (Killybegs) at 6.00pm to march to a wreath laying at the memorial. People could dress up in 16th century costume if they so wish and maybe bring a flower to throw into the harbour at Killybegs.

We will be presenting La Duquesa Santa Ana and La Girona stories, exploring the social, human, military and maritime history of the late 16th century and the fate of the 26 or so Spanish Armada. A group of historic re-enactors will demonstrate typical 16th century costume, weaponry and armour as part of the weekend.

These commemorative events are of national and international importance. They also take place during the European Year of Cultural Heritage. As the Armada was made up of many European and non-European nationalities, this year will have far-reaching connections across the Iberian Peninsula and the former Spanish colonies. Over the last number of years, there has been an increased interest and recognition in this 16th century political and maritime event. Recent discoveries at Streedagh, Co. Sligo and the ongoing underwater investigations organised by GADA, will add to our knowledge of the armada.

This is a family friendly event and all are welcome.

The second event is the annual Warp & Weft of Heritage weekend taking place mid-October (Friday the 12th to Sunday the 14th). There will be a series of lectures, events and fieldtrips all focused around the themes of the Armada history, archaeology, heritage, folklore and 16th century Hiberno-Spanish links.

The group will be issuing a call for speakers and contributors for the events shortly. If you can support them in any way they would be delighted if you could contact the Ardara GAP Heritage and History Group at: or

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