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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 November 2005, 13:55 GMT
Whiskey galore for prawn catchers
By Fiona Murray
BBC news website, Northern Ireland

Fishermen have managed to unlock a mystery of the deep after netting more than their usual catch.

Astonished crews on three separate trawlers found bottles of Irish cream liqueur among their prawns while fishing off the coast of England.

Carolans gift pack
Fancy a tipple? These gift packs were a gift to the fishermen

But their spirits were even higher when they discovered that, along with each bottle of liquid nectar, two glasses had also been provided!

It turned out that the fishing boats, from Kilkeel in County Down and Clogherhead in County Louth, had accidentally netted gift packs of Carolans Irish Cream Liqueur.

About 8,000 of the packs, worth close to 128,000, were lost during storms in the Bay of Biscay at the end of October, en route to Spain for the Christmas market.

They sank without trace to the sea bed, until swept along by currents, they were discovered last week among the haul being inspected at Dunmore East in the Republic of Ireland.

C&C International, which makes the liqueur, said the company was delighted that some of its lost cargo had turned up.

Frances Cullen, the firm's marketing executive, said quite a few of the presentation packs had been recovered.

"A 40ft container of products fell from the deck in a storm in the Bay of Biscay bound for the Spanish Christmas market last month," she told the BBC News website.

"The current swept them along and they were brought up off the west coast of England in an area called "The Smalls" where they made their catch.

"The presentation packs consist of a bottle and two glasses."

The liqueur is a blend of Irish cream, honey and Irish spirits.

Deep sea divers

Ms Cullen said the company was amazed that the sea had preserved the gift packs, after nearly one month in the water.

"We got notification on 2nd of November that the container was lost, she said.

"But when they were found, the bottles and glasses were still intact. It truly is a Whiskey Galore tale."

The liqueur is still made in County Tipperary, the heart of Ireland's dairyland, using local ingredients and it is said to be the world's second most popular Irish cream liqueur.

Carolans Irish Cream is named after Ireland's celebrated 17th century harpist, Turlough O'Carolan, a legendary travelling musician of that time.

So what will happen to the remaining deep sea treasures?

"I don't think we'll be sending out the deep sea divers to recover the other packs," said Ms Cullen.

"But we would love to see them to find out how they survived!"

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