Archived News


Spanish Armada Symposium

The centrepiece of the 2012 Celtic Fringe Festival was an International Spanish Armada Symposium at which a number of notable expert speakers gave lectures and talks. Some of these lectures can be accessed on (Dr. Colin Martin) (Kevin Crothers) (Auriel Robinson)

Guest Speakers included:
Professor Luis Gorrochategui Santos, La Coruná, Spain
Auriel Robinson - Maritime Archaeologist. Chair and Organiser for Symposium
Fionnbarr Moore - Senior Archaeologist in Underwater Archaeology Unit, NMS
Kevin Crothers - Maritime Institute. Pioneer in protection of Streedagh wrecks
Dr. Colin Martin - Maritime Archaeologist. Director of Armada wreck excavations
Cormac Lowth - Sport Diver. Member of Maritime Institute of Ireland
Jack Scoltock - Diver with City of Derry Sub Aqua Club in 1970’s and now a writer
Darina Tully - Maritime Archaeologist. Training officer for Nautical Arch Society
Paula Martin - Maritime Archaeologist. Editor of IJNA
Don McGlinchey - Technical auditor. Ex-National Diving Officer. Ex President CFT
Charise McKeon/Koen Verbruggen of Infomar- Marine Geologists for the GSI
Margaret Edwards - Education Officer, Derry City Council Heritage and Museum Service



The De Cuellar Suite

In 2011 the Festival commissioned a suite of 20 new pieces by Harper and Composer Michael Rooney that was performed by the Ceol na nÓg Sligeach orchestra of over 50 musicians and dancers; they were joined by musicians and dancers of the Galician Folque organisation from Santiago, Spain for a landmark performance that married the traditional music of these two Celtic regions. The performance attracted an audience of over 750 and received a standing ovation. Other performances are planned in Spain and France for 2013. Galician Folque musicians were playing their unique traditional instruments including the Gaita -a pipe instrument and the Hurdy Gurdy - a stringed instrument sounded by winding of a friction wheel.

The composition was based on the amazing story of Capt Francesco De Cuellar who was one of the few survivors from the three armada ships that foundered on Streedagh Strand Co Sligo in 1588. The music followed the Armada's engagement with the English fleet, their defeat and subsequent desperate struggle to return to Spain by sailing north around the Scottish and Irish coasts where many of the ships were wrecked in an exceptionally stormy Autumn. The compositions  then depicted De Cuellars adventures and struggle to survive as he made his way from Streedagh through north Sligo and Leitrim.

The injured Captain encounters hunger, enslavement and near death before his arrival at McClancy's stronghold at Lough Melvin. During the winter of 1588 he successfully survives a siege of their island castle by the English, becoming a hero in local eyes. Unwilling to marry McClancy's daughter he and a group of survivors make their way to the Antrim coast where they hope to embark on a repaired Armada ship. Eventually they are forced to get passage to Scotland where they join other survivors.

They set sail for the Spanish held Netherlands and survive a second shipwrecking and battle before retuning to Spain where he then penned his famous account. Some clips of the performance can be viewed on the following links:

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