AN INCREDIBLE discovery has been made on a beach in Donegal-- albeit a few years early.
Sophie Curran and Conor McClory, both avid surfers, were at the Bloody Foreland in Gweedore looking for surf when they came across an odd-looking metal capsule.
"We were hesitant to pick it up at first as we thought it might be a bomb," Sophie told The Irish Post.
But upon closer inspection, the pair realised the capsule had been engraved with Russian writing-- and after sending a photograph of the inscription, a Russian friend translated it and told them it bore the words 'Time Capsule'.
When the capsule was opened, it was found to contain an array of pictures, letters, menus and itineraries from the crew of the '50 Years of Victory' nuclear ice breaker ship-- the second biggest nuclear icebreaker ship in the world-- which explored the North Pole in the early 1990's.
Many of the letters were written in Russian, but one English-language letter included contact details for one woman, Sveta.
"Sveta's was one of two messages which were written in English," Sophie told The Irish Post. "She had left her contact details and it turns out she's actually an Instagram blogger-- I tried to contact her on Instagram but she didn't see it.
"Then I gave her a call and she answered, but she couldn't really understand me very well."
When it became apparent why Sophie was calling, however, Sveta was "really shocked".
While the capsule included letters and items from the expedition almost 30 years ago, Sveta revealed the crew had placed the capsule in a block of ice at the 90 degrees point in the North Pole just two years ago, in 2018.
The fact the ice had melted and the capsule had floated more than 4,000 kilometres from the North Pole to the west coast of Ireland in that short amount of time caused serious concern about climate change, Sophie explained.
"Sveta was extremely shocked to hear the capsule had been found so soon," she said.
"The crew thought the capsule would have taken between 30 to 50 years to be found, they thought it would take a lot longer for the ice to melt-- which shows that the ice is melting at an alarming rate."
Sophie and Conor are now in contact with Simon Donohue Nosek, a linguistics undergraduate student, who has agreed to help with the translation of the items and letters held within the time capsule.
Sveta, herself a keen surfer and who is currently writing a travel novel, plans to come to Ireland and visit the beach where her crew's time capsule was found-- and to catch some waves with the people who found it.
And as for the contents of the time capsule?
"We're waiting for everything to be translated first, but then we're thinking we'll make a nice display with a glass box and a frame," Sophie says.
"Then we'll either donate it to a nice museum-- or maybe a bar. But we'll keep some of the beer mats as a souvenir!"