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St Patrick's Primary School

Together Everyone Achieves More. Journey to Learning

The Girona

Learning Intentions

To learn about key historical figures and events at the time of the Spanish Armada.
To learn about the Spanish Armada and why it’s ships were were shipwrecked around the North coast.

To locate on a map where The Girona sank.

To discuss the artefacts that were recovered from The Girona.



Where is Spain? 
Use an atlas to locate Spain and Britain. Try to follow the route the Armada took using your atlas.


In 1558, England, Wales and Spain were on friendly terms.
However, relations deteriorated over the next 30 years, leading to a Spanish attempt to invade England.

During this period, Spain was the most powerful country in the known world. It had grown extremely wealthy due to its conquests in the New World (Central America).

It was also strongly Catholic, and although England and Wales enjoyed good relations with Spain at the start of Elizabeth’s reign, there were many reasons why they worsened, eventually resulting in war.

The Spanish ships were first sighted in the English Channel on 29 July 1588. This was the Spanish Armada, a fleet of armed ships sailing towards England in a crescent formation.


Shortly after midnight on 7 August, the English sent in eight ‘fireships’ loaded with tar, gunpowder and other flammable materials. Although none of these hit a Spanish ship they were enough to make the Spanish take up anchor and set off in disarray.

The Spanish leader ordered the fleet to return to Spain. The currents, prevailing winds and the presence of the English in the Channel forced the Spanish to sail north around the coasts of Scotland and Ireland where heavy seas and rocks destroyed nearly half the fleet.




The Spanish Armada

The Girona was a Spanish Galleass, part of the mighty Spanish Armada that in 1588 set out to conquer England. After the defeat of the Armada in the English Channel, the Spanish ships sailed north into the North Sea and then south-west past the coasts of Scotland and north-western and western Ireland. Due to heavy storms as many as 24 ships were lost to the weather.

The ship originally had a complement of 121 sailors and 186 soldiers. However, while anchored for repairs on the rudder at Killybegs, harbor, Donegal, she came across about 1000 other Spaniards, the survivors of two Armada ships that had run aground, the Santa Maria Encoronada and the Dunquesa Santa Ana. Rather than stay in Ireland where they were in danger of being found by English soldiers on the look out for Spaniards, Don Alonso Martinez, captain of the Encoronada, decided to load everyone on the galleass Girona and sail for then Catholic Scotland. There they could rest, repair the ship and then set sail for Spain.


The Sinking

With the rudder fixed she sailed from Killybegs to the open sea. It rounded Inishowen but the rudder was again damaged in extremely bad weather. With fierce winds blowing the ship towards the shore, the Spanish tried to keep her from grounding by rowing. However, on the midnight of October 28 it run aground off Lacada Point and sunk. Of the estimated 1300 persons on board, less than 10 survived.

Hundreds of bodies were washed ashore and some were buried on St. Cuthbert’s cemetery in Dunluce.