spanish armada cannons
One of the cannons that has been exposed on the seabed off County Sligo in IrelandYouTube

Cannons 425 years old but in superb condition from a Spanish armada vessel have washed in close to Ireland's north west shores.

The big guns were exposed due to heavy storms over the last two years. Two of the cannons have already been removed from the seabed. The relics are from La Juliana, which started as a merchant ship and whose timbers began washing up in April, reports CNN.

One of the cannons bears a depiction of Saint Matrona, venerated in Spain's Catalonia region.

La Juliana, built in 1570, initially transported goods between Spain and from Italy. In 1588, it was one of 129 other ships mobilised by King Phillip II in his attempt to invade England. Mistakes, poor planning and attacks by the English navy scattered the Spanish fleet in the English Channel and some vessels fled up up the east coast of England. A severe storm in the North Atlantic caused many of the beleaguered Spanish ships to sink off Scotland and the west coast of Ireland.

Two other ships may be preserved under the sand

La Juliana went down near County Sligo. Two other Spanish Armada ships, La Lavia and Santa Maria de Vision, also shipwrecked in the area, and more than 1,000 people lost their lives.

The other two ships may still be preserved under tons of sand. "On current evidence, the other two wreck sites remain buried beneath a protective layer of sand, but the wreck of La Juliana is now partly exposed on the seabed along with some of its guns and other wreck material," said Heather Humphreys, minister for Ireland's Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

"This material is obviously very historically and archaeologically significant."

Divers for Ireland's heritage ministry are examining the wreck of the La Juliana and making plans to safely recover any artefacts for eventual display in the National Museum.