Newsletter June 2019

Brendan Neary – Notes from the Past By Joe Varley

1988 was an eventful year in Brendan’s life. It was the 400th anniversary of the Spanish Armada and this generated the same type of media and general interest as was evident last autumn in relation to the RMS Leinster.

Yet Brendan was involved in Armada lore in 1985 when he and Kevin Crothers represented the Institute at a public meeting at Grange in Co Sligo. This was in relation to a proposed Streedagh Armada museum. It was felt that there was a need for this as a considerable amount of artefacts had been recently discovered by divers at the nearby Streedagh Strand.

The Institute mounted a major Armada exhibition at the museum in the summer of 1988. Brendan was on the organising committee along with Kevin Crothers, Jim Wolahan, Hazel Jack, Philip Smylie and Joe Varley. Ronnie Lewis was the president at that time. The exhibition was a huge success with footfall up to 6,920 from 4,724 the previous year, and revenue was IR£5,949 up from IR£4,254. Small change perhaps in 2019 but it was a significant figure then.

In late September Brendan represented the Institute at an Armada Conference held again at Grange. This was a significant occasion with Dr Colin Martin, a noted marine archaeologist, as the keynote speaker. Brendan was looked after in Sligo by Pat Carter, a local man, who had served on the Institute’s council while working in Dublin.

Brendan very quickly became adept at every aspect of the Armada story. However, this is not surprising as he had a facility to absorb and retain anything pertinent to marine history and culture.