Are you the Breda from Lispole that answered Franks message in a bottle way back in 1945?

ITS a tale of war and romance stretching back to the days just after World War Two, it all started with a lonely US soldier throwing a message in a bottle into the sea one Christmas Day, it propelled a Lispole woman into the international headlines and perhaps readers of The Kerryman can now help to bring it to a poignant ending. It was during the festive season of 194

By Donal O’Reilly

IT’S a tale of war and romance stretching back to the days just after World War Two, it all started with a lonely US soldier throwing a message in a bottle into the sea one Christmas Day, it propelled a Lispole woman into the international headlines and perhaps readers of The Kerryman can now help to bring it to a poignant ending.

It was during the festive season of 1945 that the then 21 year old Corporal Frank Hayostek, no doubt missing his family and friends over Christmas, scribbled a few lines on a piece of paper and placed it in an aspirin bottle before lobbing it over the side of his ship, the SS James Ford Rhodes, into the North Atlantic.

While the war was over, Christmas Day found Frank and his comrades some 800 miles from the American coast as they returned from France, having picked up 600 GIs who had been involved in the fighting in Europe.

That simple act of a homesick young man was to make both him and a Lispole milkmaid the centre of considerable global attention and speculation during the 1940s and 50s, but there the story appeared to end until it was recently revived in the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, Frank’s local newspaper.

The article was brought to The Kerryman’s attention by Patricia Dolan, an American currently spending the summer in her holiday home in Dunquin.

A native of Pittsburgh, Patricia explained, “My son saw the article in the paper and sent it to me because he thought I might be able to help find Breda while I’m in Kerry. Frank is an old man now and I’m sure he’d love to find out what happened to her. In his letter, reproduced in the article, Frank doubted if it would ever be found, but asked that if it is, the person discovering it should reply to him.

He wrote, “I have no reward to offer the finder of this bottle as I am just a plain American with just enough to appreciate life and happiness.

“However, friendship is the only reward I can guarantee you.”

The fickle currents carried Frank’s letter some 3000 miles before depositing it on a beach near Lispole where it was found by 18 year-old Breda O’Sullivan as she walked her dog.

Breda did as Frank requested and replied with a six page letter, something which started a chain of correspondence which eventually led to Frank travelling to Kerry in 1952, having saved $350 for the privilege.

Astutely, Frank had predicted in his original letter that the situation may eventually come to the attention of the newspapers, and by the time he flew to Ireland, he and Breda were something of a global cause celébré.

In fact, it appears that the press would have liked nothing more than the sound of wedding bells. It didn’t come to that, with Frank suggesting in The Democrat-Tribune article that the publicity may have had impeded any possible romance.

“Breda was a shy girl and three years younger than me. All the publicity was too much. She loved Ireland and she would have never left her mother, who had no intention of coming to the United States,” he muses.

While the exchange of letters between Lispole and the United States continued during the 1950s, Frank did eventually found love rather closer to home and married Helen in 1958. The following year, he received his last letter from Breda. Sadly, Helen died in 1965. Now, Frank admits that he still thinks of the young Lispole milkmaid every day and finds himself wondering what happened to her.

“I sent a final letter, but never got a reply,” he told The Democrat-Tribune.

“I heard she got married too and we just lost touch over the years. I often wonder if she is still alive.”



If anyone knows of what happened to Breda O’Sullivan over the intervening years and can perhaps help to bring the story to a conclusion, they can contact Donal O’Reilly at The Kerryman on (066) 7145520 or at doreilly@kerryman.ie.

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