By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — The discovery of message in a bottle by a man walking his dog on a beach near Tralee, Co. Kerry, has brought together two childhood friends who threw it into the sea off Massachusetts more than 20 years ago.
Michael Wall, 48, of Derrymore found the seaweed- and shell-encrusted bottle on March 27 and wrote to the addresses inside hoping to locate Amy Turano-Thurber and Valerie Wozniak.
Valerie and Amy, then 12 and 13, had thrown their message-bearing bottle into the sea from a ferry in Nantucket Sound as they returned home from summer vacation.
The message read, "Hi. This letter was thrown overboard from a Nantucket ferry going to Hyannis, Massachusetts, USA at one o’clock on September 2 1979.
"Now that you have found this bottle, could you please fill out the next sheet of paper and mail it to one of us?
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"We will send you a note saying that we received your letter. If you do not send the note back, just put these papers back into the bottle and throw it into the ocean. Thank you."
Wall, a father of four, noticed the paper inside the bottle but had to take it home and break it to get the message out.
"I’d say it has been washed in and out by the tide for a long time and it may have been lodged in the sand as well," he said. "There was an ordinary aluminum screw cap on it and it had kept the water out.
"It was difficult to read part of the message, as the paper was damp, but it is extraordinary it survived so long.
"I thought it was a joke at first ,but I wrote to both of them."
The Valerie and Amy’s parents still lived at the addresses in the note.
A delighted Amy, who now lives in South Dartmouth, Mass., with her husband and 3-year-old son, was the first to reply to Wall. Then Valerie also wrote from Simsbury, Mass.
She hadn’t seen Amy for a good few years, but now they are going to get together again as a result of the message being found," Wall said.
Wall, who has just been laid off after 27 years working with a local milling company, said he does not think there is much of a chance that he will get to see his new U.S. friends in the immediate future.
"My daughter was in Boston on a fortnight’s holiday we gave her for her 21st birthday and she came back the day after I found the bottle," Wall said. "Maybe I will get to America on the Jeanie Johnston sail ship. It is moored near here and will be leaving sometime at the end of May."