Back when Ireland was just a dream, when it was a faraway fantasy world of rainbows and leprechauns, when it wasn’t a real place… when it was a mythical magical island that only existed in fairy tales… well, back then, I met Marie O’Halloran. She lives here. She could confirm that Ireland is a real place.
As if that didn’t rock my world enough, when I mentioned that I’d never seen a dolphin in the wild, Marie said that I must go to Ireland, where I will surely see a real dolphin in a real sea. In fact, I must go to Dingle, where I will meet Fungie, a very special dolphin who loves to chase boats.
It took me years to get here, years of hoping and planning, years of selling our possessions and saving whatever we could. I wanted a better life for me and my family. And… if God wasn’t too busy, I’d really like to see a dolphin in the wild. Just once. That’s all I ask.
Whenever this journey felt impossible, whenever life was too hard, whenever I felt defeated, I thought of the dolphin. I will see him, I will. For inspiration, my daughter Savannah gave me a beautiful dolphin necklace. I tucked that special jewelry away, and I’d look at it from time to time. I saved it, but didn’t wear it. I brought it with me to Ireland, and I put it out where I could see it every day.
Finally, I wore the necklace. It was April 19, 2016 – the day I saw a dolphin in the wild. My life will never be the same, because I now I know the truth. Dreams do come true, and when they do, it’s worth all of the effort, the heartbreak, and the fear.
I can’t believe we’re actually here in Dingle, Ireland. This is the day I was waiting for all of these years!
We’ve booked the dolphin tour. As you can see, the tours are inexpensive. Because Fungie is a wild animal, they can’t guarantee that we’ll see him. If he doesn’t show up, there’s a refund policy. But, we’ve come all the way from America, and at this point, I know that I’m leaving Ireland and may never make it back. I may never get another chance! No, that’s unacceptable. I won’t take no for an answer.
I’d call the dolphin to me with my positive thinking – oh, you may laugh, but I have a magical way with animals. Even though I’m allergic to anything with fur, animals are drawn to me. They stare at me and come right to me. This happens in zoos, in parks, and in backyards. Sometimes this attention from the animal world is unwelcome, but other times I’m blissfully like Snow White and all the beautiful little birdies and rabbits and butterflies gather round me.
Would this mysterious phenomena work on a dolphin? Possibly. But I left nothing to chance. I prayed. I prayed for God to show Himself to me. Send me the dolphin. Let me see him. Please… I’ve come so far. I’ve had faith. And here I am. Just as You’ve asked. Am I going back home without even seeing a dolphin? After all that we’ve been through to get here? No, no, no! You have to send him to me.
Well… you’ll see for yourself. Fungie not only appeared, but he stayed by my side, even when I went to a different section of the boat! There was a boat full of people he could have chosen, and yet, he went right to me. Cassie was amazed. She liked standing wherever I was because Fungie would soon appear.
Funny thing, it’s like I knew where he was even when he was far away from the boat, deep under the water. I’d look in the exact spot where soon a fin would appear above the surface. The sightings were fleeting – if my camera wasn’t trained on the water where he’d pop up, I’d miss him. But I somehow knew where he was.
Nicholas stood near me and trained his camera in the same location. We have many, many gorgeous photos of this most beautiful and amazing creature. I can’t begin to describe how deliriously happy I felt when I saw him. It took my breath away.
Our boat – love the name! Reminds me of Doctor Who
We’re waiting for everyone in my family to use the restroom. I’m restless and impatient. We can’t miss the boat! I’m staring down at the boat, wishing I was on it already.
We’ve left the dock! It’s beautiful! It’s everything I’ve dreamed of!
Getting close to that lighthouse now!
Near the lighthouse there is also a part of a castle wall or some other ruin. Brent would know… he was listening to the tour. I was too busy taking pictures and looking for the dolphin. No sign of him yet…
Still no dolphin… beautiful sights though
Praying to see the dolphin – still seeing nothing…
WAIT!!!! Look out there! See it? See it? I do!!!!
A DOLPHIN IN THE WILD!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh my, he’s coming right to me!
I see him, I see him!
Aww, he’s going away already?
I see him! He’s coming back!
He’s right there, I know it!
THERE HE IS!!!!
Oooh, I see more of him now!
I can barely contain myself!!!! This is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And back out he goes… he’s very fast!
Just need a little patience…
THERE HE IS!!!!!!
Ooh, look at his sweet little face!!!!!
The tour guide warns us that he’s a wild dolphin and he might not be back to play. She distracts us by showing us beautiful places, but I’m still keeping an eye out for the dolphin to return.
In between dolphin sightings… my husband Brent and me… one of the happiest days of my life!!!!!
Ooh! Got up close to the Sea Arch – STUNNING!
But I haven’t forgotten about the dolphin, nice try Sea Arch…
Look who’s back!!!! I knew he’d come back, I knew it! OK, so I didn’t, but I’m thrilled he did!!!! WOOT!!!!
Hi Fungie! You make me so happy!
You have to be patient… he’s there!
He’s smiling! He’s happy to see me too!
OOH! He’s jumping! He’s really playing now!
I LOVE YOU FUNGIE!!!!!
He says “I love you too”!
Ah, we’re both getting exhausted… it’s time for the final goodbye I think…
One last wave!!!!
I’ll miss you! Thank you for letting me see you!
And then, he was gone.
Brent took these pictures from his phone:
And here are the pictures that Nicholas took of Fungie – he got some great shots!
I love this shot that Nicholas captured!
This is my favorite. I will miss you so much, Fungie. You will stay in our hearts forever!
Well, back to the beautiful scenery… Fungie is tired, and so are we!
See my red purse? I hung it there and almost forgot about it. That’s where I was standing most of the time, but I moved around the boat some.
Brent and Cassie on dolphin tour boat
Well, we are sad to be back on land, but it was the most exhilarating, amazing, and beautiful experience! I feel so loved by that dolphin. I can’t explain it. I had heard that it is magical to see a dolphin in the wild, but I didn’t expect to feel that way for real. I thought it was an exaggeration… it wasn’t. Wow… I just… I’m blessed.
And now it’s time to explore Dingle. Marie had told us about Murphy’s ice cream. It’s been on our list for years – it was second to the dolphin of course! But now that we’ve crossed something off my bucket list, it’s time for ice cream! (My family is enjoying my bucket list – the girls have tried to add something to it, LOL!)
You probably noticed that it’s chilly. I’m wearing three layers (a heavy sweatshirt, my hoodie that’s crammed with stuff in the pockets–that’s why I look oddly lumpy, LOL!–and my trenchcoat). But… we have to try the ice cream. And besides, the sun is shining in Ireland! What a truly gorgeous day we’ve had!!!!
I chose one scoop of Dingle Sea Salt — made right there from the sea!!!! And one scoop of Irish Coffee. Oh yeah!
I asked Nicholas what he got and he had the most cheesy grin. He got the Dingle GIN! He reminded me that the legal drinking age is 18 in Ireland.
This one’s mine – Dingle Sea Salt and Irish Coffee – MMMM!
Time to go shopping! This is our last Irish adventure… We’ll be headed home soon. I said I’d get a dolphin souvenir if I saw a dolphin, but I’d go home empty handed if I didn’t… I also said that I’d know my special dolphin keepsake when I saw it. Wouldn’t you know, the very first shop window had my dolphin in it??? It was FUNGIE himself, complete with the scar on his fin! And it’s beautiful. Want to see????
Can you see him in the store window? He’s above the teddy bear and the mug… he’s to the left of the big green mug, hiding behind the little shamrock jar. I saw that as soon as we started walking past Murphy’s ice cream. There it was! That’s my dolphin!
But could we afford it? We’d been doing everything on a very low budget. Most of what we do is FREE. Dingle was a bit more for us, but not that much. We had to budget for the special ice cream and the boat tour. That didn’t leave much for trinkets. Well, if it was too much I wouldn’t get it. Then I saw the sign – Everything 50% off! WHAT? Was this one of those magic stores that will disappear as soon as our family leaves Dingle?
My beautiful dolphin was only about $8 and he’s such a treasure! I plan to display him in our home forever! Do you notice the little notch on his fin? That’s what identifies him as Fungie.
Here’s what he looks like when the sun from the window hits him… I didn’t know that this would happen. He’s even MORE beautiful than I thought.
I have this beautiful keepsake wrapped in bubble wrap, in a cardboard box, wrapped in my clothes… it’s in my carry-on bag, all ready to go home with me to the United States.
OK, back to Dingle, where shopping was in progress. My girl Savannah found a precious necklace… from the same mysteriously inexpensive gift shop where everything was 50% off. We said YES to the pretty necklace. She hasn’t taken it off since!
Nicholas also found a couple of treasures. He had his own money and he bought two interesting figurines – small, they can fit in his pocket. Cassie found a Murphy’s Ice Cream pencil. Brent said he didn’t need a souvenir. Besides, he’ll see my dolphin forever, and he’ll likely build a shelf for it… I’m finally understanding that he is happy when I’m happy. Life doesn’t need to be complicated. He likes to build things. I like what he builds.
This guy had a bird on top of a dog on top of a donkey.
Can you see the green bird there on the dog? I missed it when he was walking on his back, doing tricks I think. A crowd was gathered around so it was hard to see.
Stopping to take pictures along the scenic coastal drive… we’re headed to the beach – our last Dingle event before we head back
Cassie identified this shark egg
I found a shell that I want to make a necklace out of. It has a hole on the top.
Aww, our day in Dingle is coming to an end. We have one last stop through Killarney… where they have another Murphy’s Ice Cream! Here, we have to try the Sticky Toffee Pudding – Brent’s teacher friend Jen recommended it. She was student teaching here in Ireland. We were able to visit with Jen and her husband when they came through Cork and made the long detour to our remote house in rural Grenagh.
Sticky Toffee Pudding is.. hmmm… it’s like a soft cake type of thing with toffee bits in it, with a creamy ice cream on the top, with a syrup? Not sure if I described it well, but it was sweet and delicious. I’m glad we got a chance to try it!
I’ll wrap up my Dingle story with this beautiful picture of the three shells that Cassie found. They are tiny and fragile – see them compared to drops of water. She wanted one for each of us girls… She gifted the large reddish orange one to me, saying that the one with the “blush of color” seemed like me. She chose the smallest one for Savannah, and kept the third for herself. She wrapped them up delicately to bring home. I hope they make it! Surely we can glue them if broken? I thought of butterfly wings. Cassie thought of angels. They’re both!