Fungie is a famous dolphin, who hung around Dingle for decades looking to interact with humans. He lived in Dingle waters for more than 30 years. But in October of 2020, there was concern for his welfare after he had gone missing for several days. Marine experts have declared that he either moved on to the new waters, or died.
On the heels of the first anniversary of Fungie’s disappearance, a heart-warming new way to remember him has arrived. Author Lori Henninger-Smith has written two books called Down by the Dock and Finn’s Friend Fungie.
The two new, interactive books feature real-life Irish dolphins as the main characters, including one about Fungie, Ireland’s favourite dolphin.
Henninger Smith said, “I witnessed the collective sadness of Fungie’s disappearance, not only in in Ireland, but around the world. I wanted to find a fun, happier ending to his beautiful story that would leave everyone with a smile when remembering the famous dolphin. So, I re-wrote his story’s ending as an adventurous new beginning.”
Imagining Fungie visiting famous locations around the world is the creative storyline of Finn’s Friend Fungie. She suggests perhaps Fungie just wanted to travel and expand his universe. This idea is a bit auto-biographical for Henninger Smith. She is an American who expanded her own universe by moving to Ireland in 2020 to go back to college at the age of 57. She found herself living on Carlingford Lough during the pandemic, when Finn also decided to take up residence in the beautiful setting of the Cooley Peninsula.
Henninger Smith’s books caught the eye of Liz Sandeman, the co-founder of Marine Connection, a dolphin and whale charity. Ms. Sandeman said, “This lovely story, told from Finn’s point of view, is very touching.” A portion of the proceeds will go to Marine Connection to further their efforts to end captivity.
The second book is about Finn, a bottlenose dolphin whom the town of Carlingford embraced as their own. During the pandemic in 2020, Finn was spotted favouring the ferry boat area in Greenore, inspiring the book title, “Down by the Dock.”
Fungie is Helping to End Captivity
Henninger Smith and Marine Connection are planning an additional entity called Team Finn and Fungie – Help End Captivity. It is a unique program school kids around the world can join. It emphasises the need for the end of captivity of all whales and dolphins.
Children can use Scan-and-Listen audio codes to hear the books read aloud, turning the page when they hear the dolphin squeak. It is narrated by Irish Indie Folksinger, Orla Travers, of the band Sillk.
Scan-and-Learn codes are scattered throughout the books that when scanned with a smartphone camera, provide more information about items on the page. A fun website has been created to accompany the books.
Readers are introduced to the real dolphins on the last pages of the books with images and more fun facts… such as, do you know where Fungie got his name? Or did you know he is in the Guinness Book of World Records?
Kids will also meet key people in the lives of these dolphins. Jeannine Masset photographed Fungie in Dingle Bay for over twenty five years. Damian Smith and John Kelly, divers in Carlingford, check up on Finn. There is also a nod to Paddy Ferriter, the lighthouse person credited with discovering Fungie in 1983.
Beautifully illustrated by Italian artist, Alice Pescarin, the book accurately depicts the areas in which these dolphins were found – Carlingford Lough and Dingle Bay.
Ahh Fungie where are you? Let us know if you can!