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The History and Topography of the County of Clare by James Frost

Part III. History of the County of Clare
Chapter 14. History of the County of Clare from 1580 to 1641

The Spanish Armada

About this time occurred certain incidents which may be here related:

On the 5th of September, 1588, seven ships of the Spanish Armada came into the Shannon and anchored at Carrigaholt. Two of these were of one thousand tons burden each, two others of four hundred tons, and the remainder of smaller size. Nicholas Cahane, the Coroner of Thomond, went on board, but he could get little information from the strangers further than that they were perishing from want of water. Eager for the acquisition of this necessary article, they despatched a boat to Kilrush with offers to exchange a cask of wine for every cask of water they might take away. The townspeople dared not supply their wants, for the sheriff of the county had received positive orders from Sir Richard Bingham to refuse supplies of every kind, and he was to put to death all Spaniards who might come on shore. In despair at this reception, they put to sea once more, to brave their fate on the stormy ocean. On the next day, a vessel was seen at anchor in a wild spot, a mile to the west of the castle of Liscannor. The patron and purser, whose name was Pedro Baptista of Naples, landed in the expectation of procuring water. The purser was arrested, and gave the name of his ship as the “Sumiga.” He stated that the crew were perishing for want of water, and that the master and four of the men had already died of thirst. Other vessels were observed from the shore, and on the 10th of September one of them drifted into a bay near Doonbeg, and became a total wreck. Three hundred of the crew were drowned, and about sixty men who had landed were slaughtered by the natives or executed by order of Sir Turlogh O’Brien, of Tromroe. Another ship attempted to sail between Mutton Island and the shore, but she took the ground and went to pieces. A thousand men belonging to her were said to have perished. From the surrounding country, the population came down to the shore for plunder, and it was with difficulty that Cahane could find a boy willing to take a message to the Mayor of Limerick. Such of the unhappy foreigners as escaped drowning were executed by Boetius Clancy, high sheriff of the county, assisted by Sir Turlogh O’Brien, Captain Mordaunt, and Mr. Morton. A massive table, preserved at Dromoland Castle, is almost the only relic, left in Clare, of the disastrous fate of the Spanish Armada. [6]