Convoluted tale of two Adams and their message in a bottle

  • Bottle found in Menorca by Spanish holidaymaker
  • Reported to have been sent 13 years ago by Tyrone man
  • Real sender is seven-year-old Adam Burke from Portadown

There are some stories that are just too good to be true - like last week’s fabulous tale of the message in a bottle and its incredible 2,000 mile sea journey from Bangor to Menorca.

It was a tale writ large in the national media with TV and radio tripping over themselves to tell the tale of the Tyrone schoolboy who apparently sent the message some 13 years ago.

Gregory Burke with his son Adam and a copy of the message in a bottle which caused such a media fuss.INPT3015-800ca

Gregory Burke with his son Adam and a copy of the message in a bottle which caused such a media fuss.INPT3015-800ca

Well there was certainly a trip of some kind - just not quite as first thought as the incredible story proved to be far short of credible.

In fact the story had its beginning and end at The Avenue in Portadown - about as far from the sea as you can get in Northern Ireland.

It all boiled down to a tale of two Adam Burkes - one from Tyrone and in his 20s and one from Portadown aged just seven.

Now stay with us on this - the waters are about to get a bit choppy.

The day before we were due to go home he went down to the sea and threw his bottle into the sea.

Dad Gregory Burke

The story broke when Spaniard Albert Voltas found a message in a bottle on the holiday island of Menorca earlier this month.

It read: “Hello from Bangor N.I. from Adam Burke age 7.”

The Spanish holidaymaker put out a global social media message to try to track down the Adam Burke in question.

The message went viral and Adam Burke, 20, from County Tyrone, thought it was his - having thrown a message in a bottle into the sea in Bangor 13 years ago during a day trip with his grandparents.

His story was widely told across broadcast media but when the family of Portadown’s Adam Burke - age 7 - saw the coverage, they realised it was in fact their bottle. The family had been on holiday in Menorca and Adam (the younger) had thrown the bottle into the sea there on the last day of their break.

His father, Gregory, said, “Adam and his friends Alex, Evan and Lewis were at a maritime festival in Bangor last month and someone was selling messages in a bottle so of course they all had to get a message in a bottle.

“Adam was having that much fun he forgot to throw his into the sea, so he decided that he would bring his bottle to Menorca and the day before we were due to go home he went down to the sea and threw his bottle into the sea, packed our bags and came home.”

A few days after coming home the family spotted the story on the BBC website and laughed off the mix-up, contacting the broadcaster who despatched Mark Simpson to set the record straight.

As for Adam (our Adam, not Tyrone’s), he’s been enjoying his 15 minutes of fame and said it was “great” while seeing himself on TV was “shocking”.

For more on this tale of two Adams check out the video on our website.