LAST week’s snowstorms made the prospect of a stroll on a sunny Australian beach even more attractive than it usually is. If that prospect included discovering a 132-year-old message in a gin bottle it would be even more beguiling.
A bottle found in Western Australia, near Wedge Island, in January was thrown from the German sailing ship Paula in 1886 as it crossed the Indian Ocean, 950km from the Australian coast. Where it has been in the interim is a matter of fanciful speculation. German ships were involved in a 69-year experiment that involved throwing thousands of bottles into the sea to track currents. Each message was marked with the ship’s coordinates, the date, and the name of the ship.
However, the message did not refer to the Government of Ireland Bill 1886 — the First Home Rule Bill — which has left an indelible mark on Irish history, one that plays out today almost as loudly as ever.
The discovery begs a simple if obvious question — if we were to send one message to someone who might be walking an Australian beach in 2150 what might it be?