Treasures underneath the sea


Imagine having a treasure trove of 16th century artefacts on your doorstep and doing absolutely nothing to preserve them.  This would appear to be the stance of the National Monuments Service and their Underwater Archaeology Unit regarding the Spanish Armada wrecks being lost to our ferocious Atlantic currents.  But what’s this got to do with me?  Well, my first novel, The Cross Of Santiago was inspired by the events of 1588 and the Armada’s demise along the Irish coast.  Just recently, I wrote about the discovery of wreckage washing ashore following some severe winter storms here (the very latest being a small cannonball), but a recent article in the Irish Times has got my blood boiling again!

Hiram Morgan from the University of Cork points out in his article the many benefits of a government led project of recovery, conservation and ultimately display of the untold artefacts currently under threat.  The image above is a just a sample of the rich treasures found on La Girona, a ship that sank just off the Northern Coast and is currently on display in the Ulster Museum and generates great interest among locals and tourists alike.  When I was researching this time period for my novel, I couldn’t believe how Ireland had been the setting for such an important time in European history.  I have no recollection of learning anything about this at school and I have to agree with the author of the article, that we are really missing out on something historically unique and valuable if we lose these treasures to the sea.

Morgan praised the efforts of locals, who have become ‘citizen archaeologists’ in an attempt to monitor and report the situation.  A local group – Grange and Armada Development Association are hoping to establish Grange as the Armada Centre for the whole of the Island of Ireland.  Now of course, the ship in my own story wrecked in Connemara, but I doubt whether there is anything left of the Falcon Blanco de Mediano, so I’ll give them this one!  But seriously, it’s important that we create a heritage site somewhere that commemorates the souls lost on our shores and an interpretive centre for locals and tourists.  Even in Galway, the vast majority of residents are completely unaware that around 300 soldiers and sailors were executed in Forthill cemetery on the order of Governor Bingham.  There is a plaque which was erected in 1988 by members of the La Orden Del Tercio Viejo Del Mar Oceano, the oldest marine corps in the world, but it is hidden behind the cemetery walls, quietly keeping watch over the sacred ground.  The memorial is only written in the Irish and Spanish language as an intended snub to the language of the perpetrator.


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22 DE JUNIO DE 1988


We really need to preserve our history and that of our European neighbours, so I hope that by highlighting the issue and making people more aware of the history that is right at our fingertips, we can lobby our government to invest in this priceless endeavour.

You can read the Irish times article here:  A race against time to save Spanish Armada wrecks before they are lost forever.

And if you like historical fiction, why not read my book?  The Cross of Santiago-Amazon - Copy

Roll up for the literary tour!

Hello everyone,

I’ve been dying to write this post, so my inner tour guide can step out and show you the literary tour of The Cross Of Santiago!  This novel was inspired greatly by my surroundings – Galway city and county and in this first leg of the literary tour, I want to take you to where it all began.

In 1588, the Spanish Armada, the greatest naval fleet that ever was, decided to invade England in a holy war to overthrow the protestant Queen (why can’t we all get along?!)  Anyway, things didn’t work out as planned (you’ll have to read the book to find out why) and the fleet had to return home via Scotland and down the west coast of Ireland.  A raging storm caused many of the ships to wreck along the Irish coastline and it was these events that planted the seeds of a story in my mind.

Looking up the Irish Wrecks Online website, I discovered an Armada shipwreck recorded in 1588 in a small  bay called Ballinakill.  Ballinakill is in a beautifully scenic area of Connemara, not far from Tully village.  I have always loved taking my holidays in the wilds of Connemara, so I instantly went searching for a cottage to rent in the area, where I could do more research.  As luck or fate would have it, I found a cottage overlooking Ballinakill Bay, on the slopes of Tully mountain.


I instantly fell in love with the place and in my novel, this is the cottage belonging to Tori’s grandmother, where Xavier stays and explores the waters of Ballinakill Bay.  At the foot of the hill (if you can run the gauntlet of wild Connemara sheep!)  there is a small pier with a breath-taking view of the Twelve Bens mountains.  How could you not be inspired by this place?


The Falcon Blanco Mediano, an urca which was most likely used for transporting supplies to the bigger ships, wrecked upon the rocks of Freaghillaun Island (try saying that with your mouth full) and many of the survivors were helped by local clans.  The ship itself has disintegrated over time in the choppy currents of the Atlantic, but some believe there is still Armada treasure to be found, if you know the right place to look….  Below is a view of Freaghillaun Island from the mainland.


Click here to see a map of the area, if you would ever like to go there yourself and take part in The Cross Of Santiago literary tour!  Stay tuned for further stops on the tour, and don’t forget, there’s still time to enter the giveaway to win a free e-book here.