By Patrick Markey
When Sting penned the Police classic "Message in a Bottle," he certainly didn’t have Tuam in mind. But Connacht man Aron Costello changed all that.
While in secondary school, Costello paid a visit to Inis Mor, one of the largest Aran Islands. He and a few friends put a message in a plastic Club Orange bottle and set it adrift, reported the Connacht Tribune.
Two months and 2,500 miles away, a young Dutch woman, Marloek Boonstra was on holiday with her parents in a holiday resort in Portugal. A bottle washed up on the beach and she struck up a correspondence with the Irish sender.
"I was swimming in the sea when suddenly I came up against this bottle," Boonstra said.
"I was amazed to find the letter inside the bottle. The notepaper had turned a bit yellow but I could make out what was on it," the 26-year-old Amsterdam native told the paper.
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After eight years of writing letters, the two finally got together recently when Boonstra traveled to Ireland to met up with her penpal. Romance, however, seems out of the question right now as the Dutchwoman has a boyfriend in Amsterdam. But, the two have promised to keep up their unique correspondence.
Sinn Fein slip up
Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness made a painful slip up recently during a local Creggan festival.
Rarely known for being wrong-footed on any political issue, McGuinness found himself hobbled when he played an over-40s football match on a recent Sunday morning, reports the Belfast Telegraph.
Playing with The Exiles football team during the Creggan Festival match, McGuinness cracked his thigh after a wrong-footing of the sporting kind saw him pitched to the ground in agony.
McGuinness will be cooling his heels in plaster from mid-thigh to ankle, the paper reports. Whatever the pain in his leg, all the more painful will be the ribbing McGuinness is expected to take from brother Tom, a former Finn Harps player who also holds two Ulster GAA Championship medals. The Exiles went on to win the match by 3-1.
After Donegal native Bill McLaughlin was involved in a horrific car accident, doctors said he would likely not recover from his coma and if he did wake up, he would be paralyzed and mentally impaired.
But after McLaughlin’s mother enlisted the help of Padre Pio, McLaughlin has made a miraculous recovery, is back to normal and is even teaching kickboxing, reported the Kingdom newspaper.
It was a freak accident on a Donegal back road that changed McLaughlin’s life in early November 1994. Numerous tests and a CAT scan gave little hope to his friends and family. A brain specialist told McLaughlin’s mother that there was a chance that he would never regain consciousness and that, because of the extensive damage to the right hand side of his brain if he ever did wake up, he would have the intellect of a 5-year-old.
Then one week later, still in a coma, his journey toward a full recovery began with a leap of faith from his mother.
She brought him a glove once worn by Padre Pio and almost immediately he opened his eyes.
"I came out of the coma and off life support. Unfortunately the doctors were right and I was paralyzed with low intelligence," McLaughlin said.
But his mother contacted a monk living in Dublin, who also had a Padre Pio glove.
"It was the second week after the crash when Brother Lawrence arrived. I was lying sleeping when he came, so he rubbed the glove over me and said prayers," he said.
Ten minutes after Lawrence left, McLaughlin woke and dumbfounded medical staff by first moving his left leg and then his arm.
"The doctor and nurse arrived for my half hourly check-up and they were all in shock," he said.
His recovery has since progressed rapidly. By Christmas he was driving again, he was back to work full-time by February.
McLaughlin has asked specialists for a medical explanation for his recovery. The reply was, medically, there was no way he should be conscious and walking around. Currently, McLaughlin lives in Killarney and if proof were needed that he has made a full recovery, he currently teaches kickboxing in the town.