A 10-year-old girl from Woodstown in Co Waterford will soon be reunited with her Gaelic football after it was lost at sea nearly two weeks ago.
Aoife Ní Niocaill was walking on Woodstown beach with her brother Dara and father Ruairí when she kicked the ball into the water.
"I kicked it into the middle of a stream, and the current was too strong and it took it out too far for me to get it," she said.
She had her name written on the football because her brother Dara has the same one.
Her father Ruairí said it was very quickly swept out to sea, and as they could not distinguish it from the seabirds after a few minutes, the family thought it might come back in with the tide.
The ball could have ended up in the belly of a whale, but instead it landed on a beach in Wales.
Seven days later, on Llanrhystud beach in west Wales, a woman was walking picking up litter and studying what the tide had brought in.
Aline Denton, who is a environmental conservationist with a particular interest in marine wildlife, saw the ball and was about to put it in her refuse sack when she saw the name written on the ball.
"I just happened to see this ball and I was about to put it in the bag, and I suddenly saw Aoife’s name, and I knew it was an Irish name, I could see the GAA logo so I thought this has obviously come across from Ireland."
That afternoon, she took some pictures of the ball and posted them to her Facebook page.
Around five hours later, Ruairí Mac Niocaill, Aoife’s father, got a message from a friend with a picture of the ball saying he found the post on Facebook.
He then posted a comment on the picture saying: "I’m Aoife’s dad! She's 10 years old and she lost her ball on Woodstown Beach in Co Waterford last Sunday. It went in the water as the tide was going out and all we could do was watch it drift away."
He wrote: "I showed her the picture you posted, she thinks she's famous now!"
The Facebook post has over 8,000 shares and 5,000 likes.
"Everyone was delighted to know who this Aoife was, and of course some people were interested in what sort of biro she used to write her name, that has survived so long in the water," Ruairí said.
Aoife said she thought a whale would have eaten the ball or it could have been spiked by a Narwhal, but marine enthusiast Aline said to pass a message on to Aoife that while there are no narwhals in the Irish Sea, "it might have passed anything from common dolphins, to bottlenose dolphins or even a minke whale".
The final scene in this saga is: Will Aoife be reunited with her ball?
Aline said: "I am going to post it, but I have been deliberating 'is it an essential journey?’ So I’m waiting until I need some milk."
While the power of the sea separated Aoife and her ball, the power of social media has reunited them.
Meanwhile, Aoife said she will not bring a ball to the beach ever again.
Aoife Ní Niocaill lost her ball in the water on Woodstown beach two Sundays ago, while it could have ended up in the belly of a whale, instead it landed on a beach in Wales @Aislingtm has the story. pic.twitter.com/aZZtI78CSQ— RTÉ news2day (@news2dayRTE) January 21, 2021