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23rd Oct 2023

Remembering Fungie three years after he went missing from Dingle

Katy Thornton

Gone but never forgotten.

It’s hard to believe we have had three trips around the sun without our favourite dolphin.

2020 was a bad year for many reasons, not the least of which was that’s when Fungie officially went missing on October 17th. Having visited the seaside village mere weeks before this, I count my blessings that I got to see him one last time before he left our shores for good.

Fungie was responsible for a year-long obsession with all things dolphins after I first visited Dingle with my family when I was a child, and I’m sure he had the same effect on many boys and girls (and indeed men and women) during his 37 year reign.

Dingle’s identity was crafted around the common bottlenose (although there was nothing common about him) swimming in the harbour, for which he was active from 1983, and thousands upon thousands of tourists made their way to this part of the country to see him, whether that be on one of the Dingle Sea Safaris, or catching a rogue sight of him whilst kayaking.

Fisherman and lighthouse keeper Paddy Ferriter spotted Fungie in 1984, and noticed the lone dolphin was a frequent visitor of the harbour. His constant presence eventually elevated him to permanent resident, where he would remain as a prime tourist attraction until that fateful in 2020 – Fungie was suspected to be about 40 years old when he disappeared.

Forget mercury in retrograde – nothing sends us into a chaotic spiral like the anniversary of Fungie’s disappearance.

Despite the three years that have passed, we have never given up hope that Fungie might come back to Dingle. When a pod of dolphins were spotted swimming off Cork, many were quick to point out this might be our missing friend, and I think we are all willing to suspend our disbelief when it comes to the chance that he might one day return to us.

Fungie has never left our collective consciousness – every time something significant happens in the world, he is the first one we want to tell. He is regularly referenced on Joanne McNally and Vogue Williams’ podcast “My Therapist Ghosted Me”, as he should be, and I get a little joy out of it every time they have to explain to UK producer Joe who exactly Fungie is to us as a country (although to be fair to Joe, I think he gets it by now).

All of this to simply say we feel sh*t and just want him back.

Header image via Getty


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