Strengthening arm ada links
SPANISH AMBASSADOR TO IRELAND VISITS SLIGO TO HONOUR GRANGE AND ARMADA DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION GROUP
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.
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.