Armada table at Adams auction
The Armada Table, one of the most important pieces of 16th century furniture in Ireland, that is estimated at €100,000-200,000 at Adam’s sale at Townley Hall, near Drogheda in October.

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The Armada Table, as it is known, is one of the best documented pieces of 16th century furniture in Ireland and carries an estimate of €100,000-200,000.

It resides at Bunratty Castle in County Clare and at 2.4m in length and 91cm wide, had to be removed for auction by crane.

The table's owner, Lord Inchiquin of Dromoland Castle, said he was selling the table for financial reasons.

Desmond Fitzgerald (1937-2011), the Knight of Glin and authoritative Irish furniture historian, once described the Armada Table as “one of the most important and earliest pieces of Irish furniture”.

The table’s sale has attracted controversy as it is a key attraction at Bunratty, after residing at Dromoland Castle from 1660 for 300 years. There have been calls on Ireland’s Minister for the Arts to save the table for the nation.

Ill-fated ship

The galleon, part of the Spanish Armada defeated by Elizabeth I’s forces in 1588, foundered like many others off the hazardous coastline of Doonbeg, Count Clare as it attempted to return to Spain.

Clare’s High Sheriff of the time, Boethius Clancy, rescued parts of the ship and its decorative carvings and had them made into a grand refectory table.

Made from a variety of timbers, including oak and tropical hardwoods including South American manilkara or bullet wood, the table has a rectangular top that sits above a frieze decorated with a dozen carved heads.

This section then rests on four carved heraldic lion corner supports and two central supports in the form of Hope and Charity, figures that would have originally been found on the stern of a galleon.

It will be included in Adam’s Country House Collections’ auction at Townley Hall, near Drogheda in October.

Some 27 Armada ships are thought to have foundered off the Irish coast and ship parts are still being salvaged to this day.