One of the few cases that were considered authentic was the bottle-message that was
found some time after the Bay of Bengal sailed from England, saying that she had been wrecked almost immediately after putting to sea. Nothing more was ever heard of this ship.
(Irish News, 20 April 1912)
The theme of the ship that sailed and was never seen again has always had a horrible
fascination. The White Star steamer Naronic was built in 1892 and was described as the finest and safest vessel ever launched.
She left Liverpool for New York on 11 February 1893, and then disappeared forever.
But six weeks afterwards a champagne bottle was found on the beach at Ocean View,
Virginia, containing a letter alleged to have been written by John Olsen, a cattleman on board.
‘The Naronic is fast sinking. It is such a storm that we cannot live in the small boats.
One boat with its human cargo has already sunk. We have been struck by an iceberg in the blinding snow. The ship has floated for two hours. It is now 3.20 in the morning, and the deck is level with the sea.’ That is all we have ever heard of the Naronic.
(Galway Express, 27 April 1912)
But here is a case of a Corkman’s bottle, thrown overboard in mid-ocean, which indeed drifted for a year before making landfall, albeit on a different coast:
The Voyage of a Bottle from the North Atlantic to the Florida Coast
Long Journey of a Corkman’s Message
On the 23rd February 1931 when the Dresden was 2,125 miles from Cove, Mr Michael O’Sullivan, who originally hailed from the Mallow district, dropped a bottle overboard containing the following message –
February 21, 1931. Tourist cabin 336A. – On board the SS Dresden from Bremerhaven via Cherbourg and Queenstown to New York … This note in airtight bottle has been cast overboard 2,125 miles from Queenstown and at a latitude N. 41.32, and longitude W. 62.18. Finder please send to Cork Weekly Examiner, Patrick Street, Cork city, Ireland, giving your name and address and where found and when …
On Saturday last, 26 March, the Editor received a letter enclosing the message from Miss A. McBride, the Belleview Biltmore Hotel, Belleair, Florida. Miss McBride had picked up the bottle on the beach at Belleair while bathing on March 6, 1932. Here is her letter:
‘While bathing at a local beach here in Florida I found the enclosed note which was
dropped from the SS Dresden by a Mr O’Sullivan and I am carrying out his instructions by sending it to you – sincerely Miss A. McBride.
PS: March 6th, 1932, when I found this bottle washed onto the beach.’
We leave it to our nautical readers to calculate the exact mileage covered by that bottle. It must have drifted over one thousand miles almost exactly in twelve months. We hope that Mr O’Sullivan will communicate to us his present address when we will have much pleasure in returning to him his note, which is in marvellously good condition, after its adventurous voyage.
(Cork Weekly Examiner, 2 April 1932)
Jeremiah Burke left total assets of just £10, according to a subsequent application for
administration of his estate by his father.
1911 census – William Burke (55) Farmer; wife Kate (54). Married 28 years, nine children,
seven alive. Kitty (23), William (20), Jeremiah (18), Laurence (16).
Source - Mercier Press -