Ireland, Dingle and Funghi the Dolphin


“The bicycle shop that is a pub also sells vegetable seeds and items of hardware.  I go inside for an inner tube and some cabbage seeds , but I don’t really need them so I have a pint instead.” – Pete McCarthy

When I woke early in the morning I knew instinctively that it was going to be a good day because the sunshine was leaking into the room through the gaps in the curtains and a peek outside confirmed a blue sky and a golden yellow sun centre stage.

The Dingle Skellig hotel served a good breakfast – a full Irish which in truth was much the same as we call a full English but with a white pudding (black pudding without the blood) which was something I had never had before but found rather to my liking.

After breakfast we didn’t wait around too long at the hotel because the day was so fine we wanted to take a walk to nearby Dingle.  On account of the good weather we choose the coastal path route next to the bay where the sun was decorating the surface of the sea with a scattering of sparkling patterns like precious jewels carelessly thrown into the water and the meadow behind the sea wall was adorned with pretty wild flowers that were dancing like dainty ballerinas in the gentle breeze.

It was only a short walk and very soon we were in the harbour area where tourist boats and private yachts were moored up alongside fishing boats that had only recently returned and where crew were going through the daily chores in preparation for another fishing expedition later.

Funghi Dingle Dolphin

The most famous resident of Dingle is without doubt a dolphin called Funghi (a strange name I agree, I’d have called him Flipper or something more appropriately aquatic) who has taken up residence in the bay and will obligingly turn up to entertain holidaymakers when they take a boat ride out to find him.

The Dingle Dolphin Boat Tours Company is so confident that Funghi will appear and perform that they offer a one hour boat trip into the bay for €16 but free of charge if he fails to turn up. There is something about dolphins that sends people all weak kneed with excitement, like seeing the Northern Lights or a field of golden sunflowers and we are no exception so we purchased our tickets and climbed aboard the boat.

The sun continued to shine and the surface of the water was flat calm as the boat made its way out into the bay and expectation and excitement started to build in equal measure as everyone on board scanned the surface of the water to see the dolphin.

I wanted to see him of course but part of me was thinking that I’d seen one before so if he didn’t turn up then this would be a free boat ride but thirty minutes into the ride the surface of the water was broken and there was a flash of fin and a shiny grey back and so I knew then that we would have to pay up.

For fifteen to twenty minutes the skipper of the boat patrolled the bay looking for more sightings and sure enough Funghi kept appearing first to starboard and then to port as though he was just teasing everyone on board.  Just as the whole thing was getting rather tedious and I thought it would be good to go back to port the dolphin decided it was time for a show and he leapt out of the water several times sending plumes of water into the air and soaking people leaning over the railings trying to get a better view.  He kept this up for several minutes and then swam to to the shallow water and rested a while, no doubt to get his breath back.

Northern Ireland Blue Flag

It was a wonderful display and according to the crew not one that can be guaranteed every trip so when we returned to the port and it was time to pay up I was more than happy to hand over the money for the trip.  Some people might be critical of animal displays like this but it seems that Funghi enjoys this human interaction and he is completely free and wild and in no way compelled to give his daily aquatic performances.

After the excitement of the boat trip and the dolphin performance we now took a leisurely stroll through Dingle, along streets of brightly coloured shops and houses and I was astonished by the number of pubs. The ratio of pubs to population must surely be the highest that I have ever come across anywhere there was even a hardware store that was half shop selling nails and garden tools and half bar selling Guinness and Jamesons!

I liked Dingle and if yesterday Ballybunion had been quite appalling then this place was going straight into my personal top ten! It was lunchtime now so after a casual glance around the harbour front tourist shops we found a crimson pub with hanging baskets full of cascading flowers and had the obligatory lunch time Guinness before taking the coastal path back to the Dingle Skellig hotel.

Dingle Ireland Murphys Pub

More Dolphin Stories:

A Boat Ride with Dolphins in Croatia

A Boat ride with Dolphins in Kefalonia

A Boat Ride with Dolphins in Greece

A Boat Ride with Dolphins in Wales


11 responses to “Ireland, Dingle and Funghi the Dolphin

  1. Andrew that is such a great photo of the dolphin! I’m afraid I would have likely captured the sea and sky and not a single speck of shiny grey. I love the fact that a hardware store can be a pub. \have to love a country like that. 🙂


    • I have to confess that it is only my picture inasmuch as I took a picture of a poster in the boat ticket booking office. Even though that is exactly as we saw the dolphin there is absolutely no way I could have captured that moment. My friend Richard however got some super shots and I will be posting these in a couple of days!


  2. I’ve never seen a dolphin and I would have been heart-broken had the boat crew not taken any money off me. It’s great to hear that Funghi is free and is no way being controlled by any humans. He must really enjoy doing what he does as, otherwise, I’m sure he would have swan off to pastures new for a quiet life.
    I’m enjoying this tour very much, Andrew. I almost feel like I am on a bus behind you, along with all the other followers following the tour with me.


  3. Delightful. We do get to see the occasional pod near here, and I can understand the excitement. I have fond memories of Dingle, which I visited in 1960. We ran out of money, so slept on the beach there.


  4. Isn’t life unbelievable when a free and wild dolphin likes to entertain. I’ve never had the opportunity to see one yet but I understand they have a wonderful disposition. Sounds like a wonderful day, Guinness or Jamesons in a half-hardware store.
    😀 😀


  5. Strange that he’s on his own, and what a strange name – reminds me of a pizza!


  6. Pingback: Ireland, North or South? | Have Bag, Will Travel

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