The Straw Boat legend

La Lavia and La Juliana Straw Boat Replicas

This model in straw represents one of the three ships of the Spanish Armada that foundered on Streedagh Beach on 21st September 1588.
It is the second of two, specially commissioned by the Celtic Fringe Festival to commemorate the tragic events that took place here over 400 years ago, one of the greatest maritime disasters in history that resulted in the loss of over 1,100 poor souls, sailors, soldiers, noblemen and commoners.

The artist, Valli Schafer, has created these models from locally sourced materials, wood, wire and straw at her studio in the foothills of the Ox Mountains. (

The Straw Galleons have been sheltered from the elements, and cared for at various venues in Grange and Sligo for the last three years in the true spirit of preserving and caring for our local, national and international heritage.

Every year they are displayed on the streets of Grange during our Celtic Fringe Festival.

They have also featured at various parades and events, most notably, the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parades in Grange and Sligo (Prize winners of the Heritage Section in 2012)

The theme of Straw recalls the epic journey of Captain Francisco De Cuellar through Sligo, Leitrim, and Donegal to the Causeway Coast of Northern Ireland, to Scotland and eventually and eventfully, his escape to the Spanish Netherlands. Francisco was reduced to covering his nakedness with straw at one particularly low point in his travels through the maelstrom of 16th Century Ireland.

Straw also evokes the ancient Irish tradition of Straw boys which is kept alive and vibrant in the North West and features prominently in our festival each year.

We are very grateful to Martin Gilroy who provides a wonderful display space for the straw model of “La Juliana” in Castle Street in Sligo and also to Barry Foley who has given us a display space in the village of Grange for “La Lavia”.