Dingle: Hiking & Fungie The Dolphin

Hiking the Dingle Peninsula

When I had booked our hostel, I had read on their website that there was a lot of hiking/walking trails nearby and I knew that was right up J’s alley. I had to concede some sort of activity since I was forcing J to endless pool duty for the kids. So, on our fourth day in Annascaul, J and the Monkey decided to do a little test hike on one of the many trails that started from Annascaul. I dropped them off in the village where they started their hike by what looked like opening a gate and going onto someone’s property. But I think that’s what most hikes are like in Ireland. There aren’t the massive areas of public land like in the US. So, hiking trails often criss-cross on private property. When we went to dinner at the South Pole Inn, we walked past a sign that showed the beginning of a hiking trail. The instructions on the sign were like: “Open the gate, close the gate. Cross the field to the north side. Go through that gate, making sure to close the gate behind you.” etc.

Here are a couple of pictures from their hike:

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The morning was uneventful and the other kids messed around the hostel playing pool and messing around on the piano. Lulu entertained herself chasing chickens around the yard and being curious about the campers who pitched a tent at the back of the hostel. We ate blueberries at the picnic table and they seemed to enjoy themselves.

J and the Monkey were gone for a couple of hours, stopping at the South Pole Inn for a hearty lunch before heading the mile-long walk back to the hostel to meet us. We relaxed for a couple hours and then headed out to the Dingle Skellig hotel for a late afternoon swim. When we were finished, we decided to explore this tower we could see in the distance that seemed to be down a small dirt road after we left the Dingle Skellig. The walk was nice and the view up the tower was a lovely view of the bay and Dingle itself.

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The following day, J and the Monkey prepared themselves for another hike. The plan this time was that they would leave from the hostel on a trail head that the hostel manager had told us about and then hike across the hills down to Inch Strand where I would drive and meet them at Sammy’s. We’d have ourselves some lunch (because we are possibly obsessed with the Full Irish) before heading into Dingle to see Fungie the Dolphin.

Here are some photos from their hike:

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Fungie The Dingle Dolphin

When we got to Dingle, there was a good crowd starting to form. We were able to get tickets for the boat leaving in about 45 minutes which gave us a little time to kill. We spent it hanging around the Fungie statue and eating ice cream. More and more people started arriving after we did and a large queue started to form so we were happy to have been lucky to miss having to queue up.

When our boat returned from it’s previous excursion, we were lined up on the wharf ready to embark. The tour people gave us some instruction and we hurried aboard hoping to get the kids a good spot so they could see.

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As soon as everyone was safely on the boat, we seemed to hurry out into the bay at a fast clip bouncing along the waves. We went out toward the mouth of the bay and sat in the waves for a while the captain (or tour guide?) mentioned some garbled bits about the area and about Fungie but that he was no wear to be seen. Then the guide announced we would move over toward some cliff walls and look around there. There were several small boats out on the water and even some kayaks. All of the sudden, the guide announced that Fungie was in the water and the boat made a sharp turn and bounced along the waves toward the mysterious Fungie.

We were the first boat to come along the side of Fungie, who swam in the blue water, head bobbing above the service. The children were so excited. There was a massive rush as people from one side of the boat moved to the other side to peer at Fungie and snap hundreds of cellphone photos. As we followed along, other tour boats came into the group. Then Fungie disappeared under the water and the boats all sat listlessly in the water waiting for him to reappear

As soon as one of the boats would site Fungie’s head reappear again, the boats would all rush over in a mad dash to secure the best spot of the tourist to take photos. I briefly worried as the boat tipped to one side with all the weight leaning over the railings, but my worries were quickly forgotten as we sped forward to keep up with Fungie’s movements. The boats churned up the water and lurched back and forth following this dolphin around and at some points, it almost felt like we were cornering it, encircling it tighter and tighter in a dangerous game of tourist and diesel engines and propellers.

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After a bit, I felt sick. Not just sick from sea sickness, but at the thought of what we were doing. Chasing this animal. Voyeurs into a “wild” dolphin’s world but really, we were just stalkers, harassing a creature who kept trying to escape. I don’t doubt that Fungie might be a friendly-to-humans dolphin prone to friendly and curious interactions alongside small boats or kayaks as they quietly paddle around the bay. But I’m pretty sure that this mad chasing around the bay was not the same as I imagined boat tour after boat tour from sun up until sun down during the summer months. I couldn’t wait to get off the boat and went to sit down, exhausted by the thought of harassing this animal, paparazzi style. When we finally finished our allotted time and the boat needed to return to the wharf to collect the next group of Fungie groupies, we headed back and finally got off the boat. My children were all happy and amazed at the Fungie sighting. Lulu insisted on purchasing a couple of small soft toys of Fungie because she was sure he was her friend now. I left, feeling horrible and sad for this dolphin who chose to make this bay his home.

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