An American man is hoping to reconnect with a Donegal family who became his penpals after a remarkable coincidence occurred almost two decades ago.

A Donegal man found a bottle washed up on a beach near his home six years after it had been thrown into a river in Indiana, USA, by Lt. Michael Lehoskey.

It transpired that the Donegal man was actually born in Indiana, near where the bottle was first dropped into the water by Lehoskey.

The Donegal man, Damiad McAulliffe, wrote only once to Lehoskey in 2001. This is where the correspondence ended until September 2017, when McAulliffe’s daughter Mary Kathleen McLaughlin wrote to Lehoskey with the sad news that her father had since passed away. Mary Kathleen says that her sister’s daughter lives in New Mexico, and that she would be visiting the US for the first time.

No return address was given, with Mary Kathleen simply referring to the fact she is from a “village” in Donegal.

Lehoskey now hopes to get in touch with Mary Kathleen once more.

In the 1990s Lt. Michael Lehoskey of Lake Station in Indiana began launching bottles into Deep River, along with a note, a self-addressed envelope, and a dollar bill to catch the eye. Lt. Michael Lehoskey threw about twenty bottles over the course of four years, before launching the last one in 1996.

Deep River, Indiana, where Michael launched the fateful bottle.

Speaking to the Northwest Indiana Times, Lehoskey was delighted when, six years later in 2001, a letter arrived with a Donegal return address.

Donegal man Damiad McAulliffe wrote that as he was walking along the beach with his dog Lilly, he found Lehoskey’s bottle and was astounded that the bottle could have travelled across the Atlantic to settle “a stone’s throw from my house and our town of a population of 78.”

McAulliffe never stated which town he was referring to with the population of 78.

In the letter, McAulliffe went on to reveal that he was actually born in Valparaiso, Indiana before moving to Donegal as a child.

He says he lived in a small village, Wheeler, outside of Valparaiso. He said that as a child, his family “lived down a gravel lane at a crossroad named Froberg Road. A white farmhouse it was and across the lane was a milk houce (sic) and barns three. A short trip to the west was the only other farm called the Latek farm operated by a wonderful man called Stanly, God rest his soul, as I am sure he is in the land beyond Christ’s Clouds.”

McAulliffe’s mother never allowed him to return to the US “because of the draft registry.” His grandfather had died during the 1916 Easter Rising, “and me mom swore on his grave that no son would ever die of a country colonized by the bloody Brits.”

The last time McAulliffe had visited America was in 1962 when he was 27.


Michael Lehoskey is hoping to get in touch with Mary Kathleen. If you can help us reach Mary Kathleen, please don’t hesitate to message