Oisin Millea on the beach in Ireland where he found the message in a bottle. (Photo: NBC News)Oisin Millea was looking for treasure along a beach near his home in Ireland when he found it tucked inside a 2-liter soda bottle: A letter, written in French, rolled up tightly and still perfectly dry.
The message in a bottle had been pitched into the water in 2004 by two Canadian girls on vacation along the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec. It had taken eight years to travel some 2,500 miles before washing ashore near the tiny village of Passage East in County Waterford, Ireland.
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"I thought it was a piece of rubbish," 9-year-old Oisin told the Toronto Star. "I really didn't think anything until I opened it."
"He's always searching for bits of treasure," his mother, Aoife Millea, 31, told the Montreal Gazette. "And that was treasure for him."
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Oisin and his mom rushed home to translate the handwritten note, which is when they discovered that it had come from Canada, not from France as they'd assumed at first. It read:
"Hello, we are two girls who had the idea to launch a bottle into the sea. We are called Charlaine and Claudia. We are both 12 and we live in Montreal. We are on vacation in the Gaspésie, in the village of Grande Vallée. We had the idea to launch a bottle into the sea because we saw a TV show about young people putting messages in bottles. If you find our bottle, tell us when and how you found our bottle. Also tell us your name, age, place of residence. Example: Paris, Miami, etc ... To contact us write to us at: email@example.com"
To finish, if you don't have Internet, go to a friend's or go to an Internet café because we are very curious to know if our bottle was found.
Charlaine and Claudia"
The email address no longer worked, but Oisin's story sparked so much interest that, eventually, the news of the find made its way back to Canada, where Charlaine Dalpe and Claudia Garneau, now 20, heard about it.
Tuesday night, Oisin sat down to chat with them in a much more modern way—online, via Skype.
"Bonjour!" he said cheerily, before showing them their old note and the crushed, green plastic bottle he found it in. The young women leaned in close to their computer to get a better look.
Now in college—Dalpe is studying interior design and Gaudreau is studying nuclear medicine—the women say they remember their message in a bottle clearly, though they never thought it would go so far. In fact, they threw the bottle repeatedly into the Saint Lawrence River, and every time the tide would bring it back, and they gave up after it got caught in some rocks.
"Maybe it will get free eventually," Garneau told The Montreal Gazette that she thought at the time. "But we didn't think it would get all the way there."
"It's really special," said Dalpé. "It's something you see in a movie, but you don't think that can happen for real. Especially when you send it into the sea, and it keeps coming back. And that it was a child who found it, close to the age we were when we sent it. It's like a dream."
Millea will have a chance to meet the girls in person next summer, when they visit him in Ireland.
"We cannot believe how happy Oisin's story has made people," his mother told the New York Daily News. "He is enjoying his few days of fame."
She admits, though, that all of the media inquiries are getting a bit annoying.
"I was joking that if Oisin finds another one, he should throw it back," she told the Irish Independent. "But of course, we're thrilled. It's great fun and a positive story."