POLITICS

Message in bottle gets Quebec girls 15 minutes of fame... eight years in making

10/24/2012 04:21 EDT | Updated 12/24/2012 05:12 EST
MONTREAL - Back when she was a little girl, Charlaine Dalpe would hardly have imagined that her spontaneous decision to chuck a plastic bottle in the water would have someday made her a momentary international celebrity.

Years later, that extemporaneous childhood act has prompted 30 interview requests from media on different continents.

The story begins eight years ago when she and friend Claudia Garneau were visiting a picturesque Quebec clifftop town in the Gaspe region.

The Montreal girls tossed the plastic bottle, with a message inside, into the Gulf of the St. Lawrence to see if anyone would find it. The bottle was found last week on the shores of a small village in Ireland.

The message, written in French, was tossed into the sea in 2004 while the pair, who were 12 at the time, were on vacation.

It asked the finder to contact them. And he has, with the help of a French teacher.

So have many other people.

Dalpe says that since the bottle was found by Oisin Millea, a nine-year-old Irish boy, the pair have been inundated by about 30 requests for interviews — mostly from media in Ireland.

The young boy has also become a local celebrity in his small village of Passage East.

"It became a really big story and he's become well known because of it," Dalpe added.

The tale of the travelling bottle also got the attention of Tourism Ireland and the two women, now 20, will be getting free airfare and a hotel next summer.

Dalpe says she hopes to begin planning their vacation when Tourism Ireland hands over the trip tickets in the coming weeks.

"We never thought the bottle would be found and that we would get a trip out of it," Dalpe said.

"We want to visit where the bottle was found and the little boy is also going to show us where he lives and I'm going to see Ireland, for sure!"

She recalled that it took a couple of tries before the bottle actually drifted out toward the ocean.

"We tried launching it in the afternoon, but when we woke up the next morning, it came back and we had to relaunch it," Dalpe said.

The two women had better luck than Garneau's mother. She had lived in the Gaspe region and attempted the same thing when she was young.

"She tried several times when she was small to launch a bottle to see where it would go," Dalpe said, "but she never got any news."

Or a trip to Ireland.