Ireland

'How my message in a bottle started a friendship across the pond'

Four years ago, Irish songwriter Aoife Byrne was inspired by Sting to try her hand at throwing a message out to sea. She never imagined what would happen next.

Aoife Byrne, from Bray sent out a message in a bottle which was found by the Bolger family in North Wildwood, New Jersey. Pictures by Aoife Byrne and Frank Bolger
Aoife Byrne, from Bray sent out a message in a bottle which was found by the Bolger family in North Wildwood, New Jersey. Pictures by Aoife Byrne and Frank Bolger Aoife Byrne, from Bray sent out a message in a bottle which was found by the Bolger family in North Wildwood, New Jersey. Pictures by Aoife Byrne and Frank Bolger

FOUR years ago, Aoife Byrne, out for a stroll on Bray beach wrote a message as a throwaway gesture, not knowing that her message would cross oceans and borders in a time when the world seemed more divided than ever.

Aoife, a 32-year-old songwriter, said: "I've always been interested in the idea of putting a message in a bottle and when I left the beach that day, I didn't give it a second thought."

Aoife also said that her decision to throw that message out to sea was partly down to the fact that she is a huge fan of Sting, who released the song 'Message in a Bottle' in 1979 with 'The Police' and was the first of their five number one singles.

"It wouldn't be out of the ordinary for me to do something like this, but I wasn't expecting it to reach America, even if it was someone in Cork who found it, I would just have been happy that the sea brought it down that way.

"It's amazing the planet that we live on and it's unfathomable that my message would have traveled 5,000 kilometres."

Frank Bolger with his wife Karen and granddaughter Autumn. Picture by Wildwood Sun magazine via Facebook
Frank Bolger with his wife Karen and granddaughter Autumn. Picture by Wildwood Sun magazine via Facebook Frank Bolger with his wife Karen and granddaughter Autumn. Picture by Wildwood Sun magazine via Facebook

Her message was then received by Frank Bolger, from New Jersey, and he got the ball rolling on the search for Aoife.

Aoife's message was then shared across Ireland and it kickstarted a search that seemed to be impossible, with hers being one of the most popular names in Ireland.

However, it took just three days to find the mystery Aoife and get her in contact with Frank, who found the message whilst clearing rubbish off the 14th Street beach in North Wildwood, New Jersey, USA.

"They're such lovely people to connect with and Wildwood has a massive Irish-based community over there," said Aoife.

This Irish community has been key in connecting Aoife and Frank as Irish-Americans started to send the story, first published by Wildwood's Sun by the Sea Magazine.

The message in a bottle found by Frank Bolger on the 14th street beach in Wildwood, New Jersey. Picture by Sun by the Sea magazine via Facebook
The message in a bottle found by Frank Bolger on the 14th street beach in Wildwood, New Jersey. Picture by Sun by the Sea magazine via Facebook The message in a bottle found by Frank Bolger on the 14th street beach in Wildwood, New Jersey. Picture by Sun by the Sea magazine via Facebook

"I'm not surprised that there was a lot of positive feedback because I think that just as there are an awful lot of horrible stories in the country, this is the other side of that coin, a nice story.

"I've had people message me and say 'Thank you for putting a smile on my face' and I'm happy that it has.

"We need a bit of love and hope in the world, as everyone's hope and faith gets tested at times, and with the way things have gone in the last few days I'm a little bit more positive."

Read more:

Mystery solved as message in a bottle writer Aoife is found

Are you Aoife? Message in a bottle from Ireland washes up on US shore

After the Bolgers revealed that they had found their Aoife, there was an outcry from the Wildwood community to unite the family and their messenger in New Jersey.

Aoife said: "I would love to (go to New Jersey) and if there was an opportunity to meet Frank and his family, I would definitely take it with both hands."

Aoife has said that Frank, his wife Helen and their family are welcome in Bray and hopes that there will be a reunion of writer and receiver soon.

"I would like to push for a reunion soon, I think that they would absolutely love it here, so I hope there is a meet-up in the pipeline."

North Wildwood hosts an annual Irish Fall Festival in the community and the event organizers shared an article in the Irish Examiner saying that Aoife should be invited to next year's festival.

Let's get Aoife to the Irish Festival! ☘ The Wildwood Sun by the Sea Magazine https://www.irishexaminer.com/news/arid-41211616.html?fbclid=IwAR2CCtcuSAXLTkryHcp0aMKJ4Z_D0UVYTWdo3ZwqixuDj7UR3PF5Qypvz4kPosted by North Wildwood Irish Fall Festival on Friday, 25 August 2023

As a songwriter, Aoife intends to pen her experience as lyrics to tell her story through music.

"I'm going to be writing again soon, I write about things that are going on in my life.

"I'm a very outspoken person and I like to express myself through music."

New friends Part 2 AoifePosted by Karen DiPietro Bolger on Friday, 25 August 2023

For now, the saga of Aoife Byrne and her message in a bottle has a satisfying ending, however, there is, undoubtedly, more of this story to tell.