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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Fungie the dolphin

  • I've been fascinated with dolphins ever since I was a little girl. I've also been fascinated with Ireland ever since I was little. That said, Dingle, Ireland, has become a top destination on my “places to go someday” list, and it's all thanks to their local celebrity: Fungie the dolphin.
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  • I’ve been fascinated with dolphins ever since I was a little girl. I’ve also been fascinated with Ireland ever since I was little. That said, Dingle, Ireland, has become a top destination on my “places to go someday” list, and it’s all thanks to their local celebrity: Fungie the dolphin.
    Fungie is a bottlenose dolphin who popped up in Dingle’s harbor back in 1983, and there he’s stayed ever since. This is something that, while not unheard of, seems to be unusual for dolphins. Rather than swim around with a pod out in the ocean, he’s become a fixture in the harbor, and he draws in plenty of tourists who take boat trips out to get a glimpse of him. I’ve read he’s a real ham and enjoys showing off for the boats, or at least he did in his younger days. He’s getting up in years.
    I read an article the other day explaining that Fungie is still alive and well, despite rumors on Twitter that he had passed away. Apparently, the mayor made a comment something along the lines of, “When Fungie dies, he’ll have a bigger funeral than the president.”
    I don’t doubt it.
    Dingle is a neat little town located on a gorgeous part of an already beautiful island. (I speak from experience because I have, actually, been there. Dingle was an unexpected but delightful detour on a trip I made in 2005. Unfortunately, I can only assume Fungie hadn’t hit my radar yet, otherwise he would have been a must-see on my visit.) It has plenty to recommend it to draw visitors in even without Fungie.
    Still, the lively little guy has been amusing tourists for a few decades now, and by all reports, the locals are pretty fond of him as well (especially the boat captains, with some claiming he will show off for different captains in different ways, or not show off at all if someone else pilots their boat for a day). He even has a statue.
    He’s like Flipper’s Irish cousin.
    I hope someday I’ll make it over to catch a glimpse of him. And, hey, maybe someone reading this column will decide they want to go over as well. If you do, and you see Fungie, tell him Tina said hello.
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