Spanish deal could lead to Armada centre
Hopes that Sligo could be the location for a Spanish Armada interpretive centre have moved a step closer following an agreement drawn up between the Irish and Spanish Governments.
Some 26 wrecks sprinkle the Irish Coast line from the Causeway Coast in the North to The Dingle Peninsula with 3 of the most accessible sites off Sligo's Streedagh beach.
A memorandum of understanding has now been drawn up defining areas where mutual collaboration on research, expertise and equipment sharing, preservation and conservation work together with the realisation of the tourism potential for both countries through the mutual Armada Connection.
Deputy Marc MacSharry has been in continuing discussions with Spanish authorities to advance co-operation between both Governments on the Armada heritage of both countries.
He said: "We are working towards the agreement of the memorandum and it is my hope that it can be finalised towards the end of this year or early 2018.
"The opportunities afforded to both countries in tourism, marine archaeology and the mutual ambition to commemorate the great Armada adventure, its stories and the rightful commemoration of all those who lost their lives.
"Ultimately, I would like to see the establishment of a national interpretive centre based in Sligo to celebrate the story of the Armada, display recovered artefacts and act as a tourism driver for Ireland.
"The memorandum of understanding between both countries is an exciting prospect and one which has great potential benefits to both our countries in the celebration, conservation and commemoration of this important event in European History.
"There is no better location than Sligo as a location for a major interpretive centre.
"There are many communities which are enthusiastic promoters of the Armada and its Irish connection but none more so than that of north Sligo through the Grange Armada Development Association.
"They have been the pioneers with regard to Armada work and this has paved the way for mutual cooperation and the ambition of establishing an Armada interpretive centre of international standing.
"We hope to work towards this goal and I have formally asked that King Felipe VI of Spain endorse this with a visit to Sligo in 2018. Cleary, resources will be required but with the signing of the MOU in the months ahead detailed planning can commence to make this dream a reality"
Spanish Ambassador Rodriquez was presented with a locally produced map. Only the 4th produced so far which shows the route taken by the Armada from La Caruna to the battle of Gravelines and then back to Spain via the North Of Scotland.
It also displays the sites of all 26 wrecks. The map was produced by local map maker John 'The Map' Callinan.