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Murder and Suicide

Found 17 September 1889, floating in Albert Quay, Belfast.

In a bottle, on a slip of paper:

Look out for the body of a man in the Blackstaff who committed murder and suicide, and also for the murdered man. 6 p.m. 10/8/89.

The words “murder and suicide” were written in red ink, and the handwriting was said to be “stiff and cramped”. The Blackstaff is an underground river in Belfast that was culverted and built over in the 1880s. The message was found by a man named Samuel McAfee, who passed it to the harbour police.

“Of course a hoax may be intended by some mischievous person,” said the Lancaster Gazette, “but when taken into account that a body was seen floating in the lough about a fortnight ago, the strange find may possibly bear some significance.”

[Belfast News-Letter, 18 September 1889, Lancaster Gazette, 21 September 1889]


Messages from the Sea soundscape

BBC Radio Ulster’s Stephen McCauley has created a soundscape inspired by Messages from the Sea. As part of the Soundscapes programme, which combines contemporary classical, electronica, ambient and acoustic music with bespoke field recordings, Stephen put a message in a bottle and threw it into the sea from a beach in north Donegal. His recordings, accompanied by readings from the Messages from the Sea book, make up the soundscape.

You can listen to the soundscape via BBC iPlayer using the link below. The soundscape starts from around 20 minutes in. The programme is available until 2 December 2016.

Soundscapes with Stephen McCauley 02/11/2016 on BBC iPlayer

Earlier, during his afternoon show, Stephen spoke to Messages from the Sea’s Paul Brown. You can listen via the interview via BBC iPlayer, starting around 40 minutes in, and available until 2 December 2016.

Stephen McCauley afternoon show 02/11/2016 on BBC iPlayer