The Spanish Armada

Philip the Second, King of Spain, who had been married to Mary, Queen of England, irritated at the assistance given by Queen Elizabeth to the States of the Netherlands, in their revolt against Spain, prepared, A.D. 1588, a powerful naval armament, for the invasion of England. This immense fleet was called the “Invincible Armada,” and consisted of 130 or 140 vessels, sixty-five of which were of great size, and called Galleons. The soldiers, marines, and officers on board this fleet amounted to about thirty thousand men, and they had on board 2,431 pieces of artillery, and vast treasures. This immense armament, commanded by the Duke de Medina Sidonia, sailed from Lisbon in the latter end of May, but was soon after dispersed by a violent storm near Corunna. The fleet being refitted, again set sail for England, in August, and after some engagements with the English and Dutch fleets, the Spaniards were defeated, and, having met many disasters, they resolved to return to Spain by the Northern Seas, and sailed round the Orkney Islands, where the fleet was overtaken by dreadful storms; many of their vessels were wrecked, and some driven far northwards and dashed to pieces on the rocks of Norway. In August and September about thirty of their ships were driven to the shores of Ireland, and seventeen of them which contained 5,394 men were wrecked on the coasts of Ulster and Connaught, about the counties of Antrim, Donegal, Sligo, Mayo, and Galway. According to Smith’s “History of Kerry,” two of the ships containing six hundred men were wrecked near the mouth of the Shannon; and three more, with about eight hundred men, were wrecked near the Bay of Tralee and Dingle, on the coast of Kerry. Some of the shipwrecked Spanish soldiers were taken prisoners, and hanged and beheaded by order of the Lord Deputy, Sir William Fitzwilliam; but those who survived, having embarked to return to their own country, the ship foundered, and all on board were drowned, in sight of the harbour off the coast of Sligo.