Girl's lost football travels over Irish Sea to Wales

By Craig Duggan
BBC Wales news

image copyrightAline Denton
image captionThe ball was lost on the tide near Waterford before it floated 200km and was found by Aline Denton on a Ceredigion beach

A child's Gaelic football managed to bypass new Brexit border checks after travelling from Ireland to Wales by sea.

The ball - owned by 10-year-old Aoife - was kicked into the sea near Waterford, Ireland, on 10 January.

As the tide was going out Aoife's father was not able to recover the ball and could only watch it float away, thinking it was lost forever.

But just a week later it turned up, washed ashore on a Ceredigion beach.

Local resident Aline Denton found it on Llanrhystud beach between Aberystwyth and Aberaeron.

It had travelled more than 200km (124 miles) from Woodstown beach near Waterford across the Irish Sea before getting washed up on the beach in west Wales.

Ms Denton, who lives near the beach, was out walking on Sunday on her daily lockdown exercise.

As a volunteer with the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, she was picking litter and cleaning the beach as she walked when she came across the ball.

image copyrightGoogle
image captionThe ball washed up on Llanrhystud beach

She took a photo of the white ball - which had Aoife's full name written on it in pen - and posted it on social media asking if anyone knew Aoife, adding: "Her football's just washed up on Llanrhystud beach - west Wales! Wonder how long it's taken to get here from Ireland?"

Ms Denton said: "At first I only posted the message privately for my friends to see, just out of interest.

"But then an ex-colleague who lives in Ireland said he'd share the post with the Gaelic Football Association. After that it really took off and within five hours we'd found Aoife."

Later in the day she updated her Facebook post to say: "Brilliant news!! The post has reached Aoife's dad.

"Aoife lost her football near Waterford seven days ago. Thanks to everyone who shared the post!"

Aline said: "It has really taken me by surprise how this has taken off. It's all over the media in Ireland apparently. It's resonated with so many people."

Ms Denton has found things from Ireland while cleaning the beach before, but never a personal item like the football.

She said: "The ball hasn't deflated, there are one or two small chunks taken out of the ball, maybe where it has been bashed against rocks but it seems fine.

"It was really exciting and nice to make contact with Aoife's father, especially because Aoife was so excited to see that the ball had reached Wales.

"Some of the messages on Facebook were funny with people saying that the ball had travelled further than they had for a long time, and others mentioning Tom Hanks and the film 'Castaway.'"

Ms Denton now plans on posting the ball back to Ireland so that it can be returned to Aoife.

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