CC BY-SA, Tobermory Harbour - DeFacto


a treasure lost olive brown & jean whittaker, 2000

Location: Mull and Iona
ships and boats, gaelic culture, shipwrecks

The Tobermory Galleon

Mull legend is that, in 1588, the galleon 'Florencia' (or sometimes ‘Florida’) from the Spanish Armada found its way to Tobermory Bay and mysteriously sank, taking with it a fortune of silver and gold.

The reality is that the ship was not called Florencia, was not a galleon, wasn’t even Spanish and had no fortune on board. The ship was actually built in Croatia as a 800-tons merchant vessel before it commandeered for the Spanish Navy under the name of Santa Maria de Gracia y San Juan Bautista. Part of the routed Armada, the heavier ship fell behind and with 275 soldiers on board and its sails in rags, took refuge into Tobermory, belonging to Lachlann Mòr, the famous MacLean chief.

Negotiation with the chief resulted in the following exchange: the services of 100 soldiers and two canons to ravage the islands of Eigg, Muck, Rum and Canna belonging the rival MacDonald Clan for a month worth of carpentry repairs. Visiting the ship became the fashion of the day, but just as work was being completed and gunpowder transferred ashore, an explosion blew part of the forecastle, causing the ship to burn and sink. Whether the explosion was caused by English spies aided and abetted by Lachlann Mòr is still debated, but despite numerous attempts from 1660 to 2014 at salvaging the rumoured treasure nothing of more substance than possibly the ship’s pay-chest was ever found.

More information on visiting the area can be found here.