“You’ll be cruising on Suaimhneas,” we were told as we registered for our boat tour to visit Dingle’s most famous resident, “that’s lucky, Fungi really likes the orange boat.”
Suiamhness (sue-vah-ness) is the Irish word for tranquility. And while the waters of Dingle Bay were certainly tranquil that perfect May day we visited, the girls and I were excited beyond belief to ‘meet’ Fungi the Dingle Dolphin.
Fungi, the Famous Dingle Dolphin
There are plenty of thoughts on where Fungi came from and why he chose to stay in the waters of Dingle Bay. It is said that he arrived with another dolphin, possibly a mate, who did not survive the storm that is believed to have brought them to Dingle harbour seeking safety. Is this why he stays?
Though pods of dolphins can be seen past the mouth of the harbour, further out in Dingle Bay, and Fungi does, occasionally, join them, he has never been drawn from his adopted home of Dingle.
Dingle Dolphin Boat Tours
The Dingle Dolphin Boat Tours office is easy to find… just look for the statue of Fungi at the pier.
Reservations for tours are not necessary; just step into the office to request a tour and Bridget or one of the other lovely staff will get you on the next boat. (Prefer to book ahead? Buy tickets here.)
The wait for our tour, nearly an hour, went by quickly. The girls posed with Fungi’s statue and we walked along the pier, watching boats and people.
As the time for our tour neared, people began to gather near the loading platform. I worried that the boat would be so crowded we, and especially the girls, wouldn’t be able to get a good spot to view Fungi, should he be in a playful mood.
I needn’t have worried. While the boat was full, it wasn’t crowded. I did have a small moment of panic as I realized Brenna was no longer at my side. She had found a spot at the rear corner with a group of girls who were clearly younger and more hip than I. I could hear her chattering happily with them as they all watched for Fungi.
We didn’t wait long for Fungi to appear at the side of the boat. True to what we were told, he seemed to have a liking for the orange boat.
As we gazed into the sparkling water of Dingle Harbour, we could see Fungi approaching, swimming beside the boat. He would appear and then veer off , leaving us to wonder where he went. Rising from the water in the distance, often far from where we thought he would be, Fungi seemed to enjoy his watery game of ‘hide and seek’. He seemed especially happy when the boat picked up speed, racing beside us, almost grinning as he broke through the surface.
The tour lasted an hour and even after nearly continuous sighting of Fungi, the girls wished we could have stayed with him longer. I wished for an even closer experience with this beautiful mammal who seems to have adopted people as his pod and brings such joy to everyone who sees him.
You’ll find the shops around Dingle filled with postcards and plenty of dolphin trinkets. If you’re after something a bit more distinctive, visit John Weldon Jewellers on Green Street (about a 3 minute walk from the pier) to see their gorgeous Celtic Dolphin Pendant. I was entranced when I saw Bridget’s in the Dingle Dolphin Boat Tours office.