The Wreck of the Trinidad Valencera in Kinnego Bay, Donegal.

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There are few more beautiful places that I know of than Kinnego Bay, a spectacular phenomenon that has been constructed by the forces of wind and waves over many years and is happily tucked out of sight of prying eyes along the coast of the Inis Eoghain (Inishowen) peninsula of Donegal in the Republic of Ireland. Totally remote with pure, unpolluted (freezing cold) water, and deep, clean, yellow sand, the bay is sheltered from the world by steep, wooded cliffs that few people venture down – paradise, and ideal for skinny dipping all summer long.

Out in the bay (we’re told) lies the wreck of the Trinidad Valencera, one of the largest ships of the Spanish Armada, which sank a few days after sustaining severe damage in a vicious storm out in the Atlantic in September 1588. She was plundered for her treasure just a few years ago, but since the plundering was done through an accredited institution of modern times we aren’t allowed to use that particular verb since it carries connotations of criminality and that’s not very nice. Fortunately the crew had managed to carry off much of what would have interested today’s plunderers, so there wasn’t much to take in 1971 when the City of Derry Sub-Aqua Club happened upon her corpse.

The Trinidad Valencera, a Venetian Trader of some 1100 tons, was never intended as a war ship, but was commandeered along with others by the Spanish in Sicily and fitted with 28 bronze guns against the wishes of her Captain Horatio Donai.

And me and the lads weren’t the first skinny dippers here it seems. The 79 seamen and 281 Neapolitan soldiers who came ashore after their ship split up and sank were relieved not only of their weapons, but also of every stitch of their clothing by a small Anglo-Irish force before being put to the sword.


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