Strength­en­ing arm ada links


The Sligo Champion - - NEWS - BY JES­SICA FARRY

The mem­ory of the Span­ish sol­diers and sailors who lost their lives dur­ing the Span­ish Ar­mada ship­wrecks in 1588 have long been re­mem­bered and hon­oured by the Grange and Ar­mada As­so­ci­a­tion Group.

In­deed, the work of the group has left such an im­pres­sion in Spain, that they were awarded the ‘ Plate of the Or­der of Is­abel La Católica’ last Fri­day even­ing at a re­cep­tion in City Hall.

The Span­ish Am­bas­sador to Ire­land, His Ex­cel­lency, José Maria Ro­driguez- Coso said he was hon­oured to present the award to the group, hav­ing been ap­proved by His Majesty, King Philip VI.

The Or­der of Is­abella the Catholic is a Span­ish civil or­der, in which mem­ber­ship is granted in recog­ni­tion of ser­vices that ben­e­fit the coun­try. I it is the first time it has been pre­sented in this coun­try.

The Am­bas­sador, who promised this will not be his last visit to Sligo, said the Grange and Ar­mada De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion are fully de­serv­ing of this hon­our.

“It’s my sec­ond time in visit and it will not be my last. I’m go­ing to be back, if every­thing is ok, in Septem­ber for the Celtic Fringe Fes­ti­val. It’s a plea­sure to come here, es­pe­cially to take the op­por­tu­nity to give recog­ni­tion to a fan­tas­tic group of peo­ple who are do­ing a great job for al­most 30 years.

“It’s a very im­por­tant job. We’re not talking about the cap­i­tal, we’re talking about the west coast. We are talking about a group of peo­ple who are try­ing to do a job, some­times with lim­ited funds but with a lot of en­thu­si­asm. I thought it had to be pro­posed, that his Majesty the King of Spain had the good­will to recog­nise.”

While he says that many Ir­ish travel to Spain for their hol­i­days, there are two huge cul­tural links be­tween the coun­tries that do not in­volve the things we mainly as­so­ciate with Spain.

“Cul­tur­ally, I used to say there are two main con­nec­tions be­tween Ire­land and Spain. There are many, but let’s for­get the San­gria, the Sol, Mal­lorca and Malaga. We’re laughing but it’s 1.8mil­lion Ir­ish peo­ple who vis­ited Spain last year. That means that al­most one third of the pop­u­la­tion has been there.

“We’re talking about other things. Not only the fact that a lot of Ir­ish peo­ple go to Spain and stay there, there are two main cul­tural events that keep the com­mu­ni­ties linked. One is the Camino, the sym­bol­ism is not only re­li­gious, and then the re­mem­ber­ing of the Ar­mada is an­other cul­tural thing that keeps the two com­mu­ni­ties con­nected through history. For me, it brings me emo­tion when I see some­thing like this that is re­called so fondly, when it hap­pened so long ago.

“Of course, what­ever is re­lated to ships, sail­ing storms and catas­tro­phe has a sort of ro­man­ti­cism, I don’t know why. I sup­pose that ev­ery­body, es­pe­cially my gen­er­a­tion, started read­ing books like Trea­sure Is­land so there is a whole mythol­ogy around this.

“That’s why the story of the ar­mada, which is tragic, still brings a big in­ter­est to peo­ple,” added the Am­bas­sador.

“In his ad­dress, Cathaoir­leach of Sligo County Coun­cil Sea­mus Kil­gan­non said: “In this year when Sligo cel­e­brates its sta­tus as ‘ Euro­pean Cap­i­tal of Vol­un­teer­ing’, it is fit­ting that this ma­jor in­ter­na­tional award is be­ing pre­sented to an out­stand­ing group of vol­un­teers.

“Th­ese events serve to en­hance the very spe­cial re­la­tion­ship we have with Spain, which is our 5th largest tourist mar­ket, and the Span­ish Navy will also have a ma­jor pres­ence at the Celtic Fringe Fes­ti­val in Oc­to­ber.”

Coun­cil­lor Kil­gan­non paid trib­ute to the hard work­ing vol­un­teers who en­sure that the ar­mada is re­mem­bered.

“The presentation of the award by the Am­bas­sador here to­day is fit­ting ac­knowl­edge­ment of the ex­em­plary work car­ried out over many years by the Grange & Ar­mada De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion. It re­in­forces the strong for­mal and per­sonal re­la­tion­ships that have been de­vel­oped over the years be­tween Spain and Ire­land. The strength of this as­so­ci­a­tion is shown by the fact that the Span­ish Navy will once again par­tic­i­pate in our Celtic Fringe Fes­ti­val this year in Septem­ber.

While the fo­cal point of the re­cep­tion was the presentation by the Am­bas­sador to the Grange & Ar­mada De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion, the Cathaoir­leach also in­vited the Am­bas­sador to open a Book of Con­do­lence to en­able the peo­ple of Sligo ex­press their sol­i­dar­ity and sup­port fol­low­ing the tragic events in Spain last week.

The Books will be avail­able for mem­bers of the public in Sligo City Hall, Quay Street and County Hall, River­side.

Pics: Donal Hack­ett.

Com­mit­tee mem­bers of the Grange and Ar­mada De­vel­op­ment Group with the Span­ish Am­bas­sador to Ire­land, His Ex­cel­lency, José Maria Ro­driguez- Coso.

His Ex­cel­lency José Maria Ro­driguez with Coun­cil­lor Sea­mus Kil­gal­lon and the Book of Con­do­lence.

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