Spanish Armada Trail

Step back in time on this walk at wonderful Streedagh beach, one of the most pristine and beautiful beaches in Ireland!

On this walking tour, you will be tracing forgone footsteps of a captain named Francisco De Cuellar who was shipwrecked after a horrendous storm hundreds of years ago. He was an important figure in the story of the infamous Spanish Armada fleet when they were trying to flee back to Spain after a failed invasion on England.

Some of the ships got washed up on the Sligo coastline leaving us with fascinating underwater archaeology and historical documents that will blow your mind.

Canon on ocean bed Streedagh

Photo credit UAU National Monument Service

Your guide, Auriel, has a passion for underwater archaeology and maritime history. She specialised in this area after her main degree in Archaeology and Geography.

She will tell you what was uncovered here during excavations over the years and about the miraculous escape of Captain Francisco De Cuellar who survived brutal treatment when he was washed ashore and had to watch his comrades die.

Streedagh is a place of great beauty and wilderness yet it witnessed tragedy in 1588 when the huge Spanish Armada ships were lost.  

Streedagh Beach

On this walking tour, you will also explore the shore, a variety of seaweeds, peaceful sand dunes, a megalithic tomb and 330-million-year-old fossils on a rock platform where the blue waves roll in. This is the Wild Atlantic Way and a Special Area of Conservation.

The wild flora here is spectacular in summer where early marsh orchids, pyramid orchids and heath spotted orchids all pop their heads up as well as yellow irises and marsh helleborine. If you are interested in bird watching, this area is great for wild birds too such as Brent Geese, oyster catchers, plovers, terns and skylarks.

The sound of the waves is therapeutic, and you can enjoy fabulous views of Inishmurray Island across the water from Streedagh.

Fossils in rock

After your refreshing walking tour, Auriel will offer you complimentary tea/coffee and treats al fresco and if you wish, she will show you another site close by of a ruined abbey that is connected to the famous escape story of Captain Francisco De Cuellar.

Staid Abbey is situated to the south of Streedagh Beach. It is said that it acted as a haven for monks who sought refuge from bad weather on Inishmurray Island.


Staid Abbey

Historical Background

In 1588, King Phillip II of Spain had ordered over 130 ships to sail from the port of La Corunna for England with the intention to invade. The attempt failed miserably. On a desperate attempt to flee to Spain, over twenty-five Spanish ships became wrecked off Ireland’s coast. Three of them were wrecked at Streedagh. On board one of these ships was a captain called Francisco De Cuellar. He escaped from English soldiers who were killing other survivors of the storm on the beach. He had to go inland and try to find help and met Gaelic Irish Chieftains who assisted him and several survivors much to the disgust of Queen Elizabeth. The reason why we have detailed information about his escape is because when we finally reached safe territory in Antwerp a year later, he wrote a letter to King Phillip II of Spain explaining everything that happened to him and his comrades in Ireland.

This letter was not discovered until 1885 in an archive in Spain. It is one of the most fascinating accounts we have from the 16th Century in Ireland.



Streedagh, Sligo. We will provide you with directions









Group rate starts at €100



We rarely cancel. See our terms and conditions



Uneven, strand, shore, rocks, road



c. 2 hours



Hiking boots, waterproof jacket, trousers, hat, sun glasses, sunscreen, water

Excellent Spanish Armada Tour

We had a lovely day exploring the Sligo coast with Auriel. She’s a very knowledgeable and friendly host and seems fascinated herself by the geology and history of the area. We learned about the wrecked Spanish Armada ships and the adventures of the Spanish survivor De Cuéllar; saw a 5,000-year-old Stone Age wedge tomb; saw tonnes of fossilised coral, and iron seeping through the limestone, all in a really beautiful part of Sligo. What a grand day! Much appreciated and recommended.
Shane L, 16 Feb, 2019
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