By Nick Bray, Staff Reporter
A lobster trap tag originating in Southport, Maine was recently found on a beach in Kerry, Ireland. The tag belonged to Coneth Murray, a lifelong lobsterman. Murray is the grandfather of Jess Murray, a senior at UMF.
Facebook has helped create a global lost and found, where objects which drift across the Atlantic ocean can be returned to their rightful owner with ease. The typical beachcomber might discover many artifacts from the fishing industry, and disregard them as they are so ubiquitous.
But Caroline Farrell wasn’t so quick to dismiss the common item when she came across the Mainer’s tag last month. Farrell was walking on Glenbeigh beach in Kerry with her boyfriend when they spotted the tag.
“My boyfriend does beachcombing from time to time,” Farrell said. “He has a keen eye and knows where to look for things on the beach.” Something orange caught Farrell’s eye, she picked it up and her boyfriend explained to her that it was a lobster trap tag. She immediately noticed the name Coneth Murray, printed on the tag. She was intrigued as her grandmother was a Murray and she wondered if there was any relation to this Murray.
Her boyfriend had found these tags in the past and recommended that Farrell post an image of the trap tag on the “Lost at Sea” Facebook group to find out if anyone had a connection to Coneth Murray. “Lost at Sea” is a page where people from across the world post images of things they find washed up on the beach. The group has over 6,000 members posting anything from messages in a bottle, to coins, fishing equipment, and unknown objects that users post in hopes of having the community identify the object.
It was within hours of Farrell posting the trap tag that Jess Murray found it, and contacted Farrell. Murray’s cousin was a member of the “Lost at Sea” page and noticed Farrell’s post just hours earlier in the day. “I just clicked on her name and messaged her,” Murray said. Murray explained to Farrell that her grandfather stopped lobstering in 2001, and passed away in 2009. That means that the lobster tag was likely lost at sea for at least 16 years, if not longer.
Murray comes from a long line of lobstermen. Both her father and grandfather have been lifelong fisherman. “My grandfather lived and breathed lobstering,” Murray said. Coneth Murray was the captain and owner of the Donna Marie, the lobster boat he named after his wife. Murray’s family were very surprised to hear about this find. “My grandmother cried,” Murray said. Farrell said that she will be mailing the tag out as soon as she could and Murray will be receiving it soon.
Murray’s family is of Irish ancestry, and her parents plan on visiting Ireland this summer. They intend on visiting Glenbeigh beach where the tag was found, 2,700 miles away from Southport. The warm waters of the Gulf Stream current pass along the coast of the eastern United States, and crosses the Atlantic ocean becoming the North Atlantic current, eventually passing along the west coast of Ireland, where Glenbeigh beach is located. The tag likely become detached from Coneth Murray’s trap almost two decades ago, became lost at sea for some time, travelled with the current, resurfaced in Ireland, and is now returning to Maine after a very long journey.