Joanne Walker from the Ulster Museum and Redmond Gallagher preparing one of La Trinidad Valencera's cannon for display. Courtesy Tower Museum.
The Tower Museum, Derry, opened a £2.7 million exhibition about the Spanish Armada on October 25 2005, thanks to pioneering underwater archaeology, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Derry City Council.
La Trinidad Valencera, a main ship of the Armada, sunk in Kinnagoe Bay, Donegal off the north west of Ireland during a violent storm following defeat by the British in 1588. Some 400 years later the City of Derry Sub Aqua Club recovered a host of interesting artefacts from the wreck, which are now on display along with an audiovisual exhibition of the recovery process.
The Tower Museum in Derry is now back open after the installation of the new Armada exhibition. Courtesy Tower Museum.
“The discovery of the La Trinidad Valencera by the City of Derry Sub Aqua Club is a remarkable story in itself and provides a unique opportunity to present the Armada journey through this local achievement,” said Mayor Councillor Lynn Fleming.
“The recovered artefacts are stunning and the interactive approach to telling this story adds to the sense of discovery,” she added.
Many of the artefacts are remarkably well-preserved. Courtesy Tower Museum.
The central feature of the new exhibition, which is called An Armada Shipwreck-La Trinidad Valencera, is an array of cannons, textiles, pottery, wooden and pewter dishes, goblets, shoes and coins, amongst other items.
Many of the artefacts were prepared for display by staff at the Ulster Museum, which assisted and advised in their recovery.
Other artefacts have been loaned by the Science Museum, London, the National Maritime Museum, Royal Armouries, Leeds and the City of Derry Sub Aqua Club.
Ulster Museum's Joanne Walker finishes off a display of some of the items used by the crew of the Spanish ship. Courtesy Tower Museum.
Alongside this is video footage of the recovery operation and the revolutionary techniques invented especially to enable it. The 1971 excavation under the direction of Colin Martin, maritime archaeologist at St Andrews University, was filmed by the BBC as part of its Chronicle series.
Throughout the museum are interactive displays of the Armada’s influence on the area. On each level is a new theme designed to captivate the imagination and draw the visitor into the history surrounding the shipwreck. This includes audio material in six languages and a Discovery Trail, aimed at schoolchildren, to encourage them to put lessons from history into practice.
The Tower Museum has won four major awards since opening in 1992. They are the Irish Museum of the Year Award, the British Airways Tourism Endeavour Award, the National Heritage IBM UK Museum of the year award and Special commendation European Museum of the Year Award.