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History between Ireland, Scotland and Spain.... Military history, Spanish Armada and much more.

And so to the Fair Isle
Sunday, June 25, 2023

What on earth could a little island off Shetland have in common with Spain? Half way between North Ronaldsey in Orkney and Sumburgh Head in Shetland, there is a grand sight to behold.  The little island boasts a wide range of activities, and, is of course, a fabulous environment. However, little appears to be know about the presence of the naval action, and the downfall of an Admiral of the Spanish Armada. 

Admiral Juan Gomez di Medina was the Commander of the Spanish Armada - the  “Invincible” Armada was  dispersed by the combined artillery of the skies and the English fleet, was wrecked in 1588.  They attempted to ,  return to Spain, by sailing round the west of the British Isles. It was difficult to land on the craggy outcrop after their galleon was driven into a creek on the east side of the island.   It is said that during his stay in Fair Isle, the Spanish commander behaved "most chivalrously", and "ordered his men to pay handsomely" for all the provisions they required from the natives. However, the Spaniards waited too long at the scene of their shipwreck, apparently from apprehensions lest they should not be well received in Shetland, which was under the sway of the Protestant King of Scotland who was friendly with Queen Elizabeth I.





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Friday, August 26, 2022

Sayalonga is a town and municipality in the province of Malaga, part of Andalucia in southern Spain. It is situated in the region known as the Axarquia. The municipality is situated approximately 38 kilometres from Malaga and 12 kilometres from Velez Malaga. It has a population of approximately 1,300 residents. The natives are called Sayalonguinos.

So what is the fascination with Sayalonga in the Axarquia, apart from its great walks, the Moorish museum, the local vineyard at Bentomiz, excellent restaurants and accommodation?  Well, did you know that Sayalonga has long historical links with Scotland through the only round cemetry in Spain. The Round Cemetery  was built during the first half of the nineteenth century, commissioned by  Carlos III.  Due to  hygiene reasons the cemeteries had to be built outside the city walls and population centres. The cemetery that existed prior to the construction of the Round Cemetery was in the courtyard of the Santa Catalina Church which was built in Mudejar style, is constructed on the ancient mosque of the village.  It actually has an octagonal floor.  Legend has it that the famous Christian knight came to drink at the fountain. The romantic version: indicates that it was built in this way, all round so that "no deceased turns his back on another".

It is the only such cemetery in Spain and as no explanation has been found, it remains surrounded by many mysteries and legends even today.  The most common legend was that it was the Knights Templars who built it and that it has masonic origins. Others say there was no direct connection.    The Knights Templar was a Catholic military order  founded in 1119 with their headquarters in Jerusalem and existed for nearly two centuries during the Middle Ages. Nowadays, several orders of the knighthood continue to exist in Christian Churches, in addition to a number of Christian countries and previously held territories such as Malta and the English Order of the Garter. 

The Peace Monument is a large sculpture at the entrance to the village, coming from the Torrox direction referring to the victims of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).  This brings things full circle, as there is a Spanish Civil War museum in Competa.

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LetsGoNorth meets LetsGoSouth
Thursday, August 4, 2022

We introduced the concept of LetsGoNorth meets LetsGoSouth some years ago, and wrote a couple of blogs.  We are now incorporating that blog here as we cannot access it to update.   Now we have found parallels between the Senda Litoral (Malaga Coastal Path)  which is an amazing route across the south of Spain of 160 km following the entire coast of Malaga province from Manilva to Nerja. This is of course a built path, whereas the burgeoning North Highland Way in Scotland is a "way to go". The North Highland Way at Durness has artefacts of the Spanish Armada in Balnakiel House.  There are many wrecks of Spanish galleons in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland, creating an amazing heritage trail, even to Westray as can be seen in the article the Dons of Westray.  Two major storms in 1588, one in Plymouth and the other on the North Antrim coast in Northern Ireland, were the demise of the Spanish Armada.  Queen Elizabeth I declared that it was the hand of God. 

The scenery and walking in both Spain and Northern Scotland, as well as Northern Ireland, is fantastic.  One cannot help but get out and walk in Spain, especially on the Caminos.




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Spanish Gold comes to Northern Ireland
Tuesday, November 2, 2021

What is there in Northern Ireland which is Spanish?  Well, the blood for a start.  Joan Morros book the Blood of the Celts is a classic.  Then of course there is the influx of Spaniards into Belfast, in particular.  There is the route of the Spanish Armada, there is even a military connection in Armagh.  There are legends such as the one at Omeath. There is even a Spanish tree... well, there were seven, but one blew down in a gale. That was the one which was allegedly descended from one of the sailors who died on the North Antrim coast and they buried him with the seed of a Spanish chestnut in his pocket.  It grew into a magnificent tree... sadly blew down in a gale in 2020.  Very sad.  Sad in particular for me, I was very fond of that particular tree.

There are Spanish groups, Spanish wine and all around there are Irish men and women with Spanish blood.. That includes me, as I am a Marshall.  James Marshall was shot as a spy in the Spanish Civil War. 



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Going green meets Hemingway
Monday, July 12, 2021

The Spanish Armada was not the only link with Northern Ireland and Ireland.  Think of the International Brigades - the Irish and Scottish soldiers who fought on both sides of the Spanish Civil War.  Think of Ernest Hemingway whose 60th anniversary of his death is this year.  He experienced the Spanish Civil War first hand as a war correspondent for the North American Newspaper Association (NANA).

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