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A Friend in the Irish Sea

by • May 1, 2014 • 2014, May 2014, Travel

Travel has always been a passion of mine and I truly love visiting new places.  While I try to explore new locations as often as possible, I always find myself being drawn back to a little country town in Ireland named Dingle.

After a certain amount of visits you start to recognize familiar faces in the crowds and you begin to make friends with all of the locals. But, of all the acquaintances I have made on the Emerald Isle, my best friend in Ireland may just be a dolphin.

Fungie the Dingle dolphin is an Atlantic bottlenose that has lived in the waters off of Dingle for over 30 years.  He is completely wild but chooses to never venture too far from the mouth of Dingle harbor.  This has baffled scientists and specialists alike. What puzzles people is Fungie’s affinity for interacting with humans. On any given day you can see Fungie playing in the mouth of the harbor greeting boats, surprising kayakers and swimming with those who are willing to dive into the freezing Atlantic Ocean.

While I enjoy all of those activities, my favorite would have to be swimming beside him.  It was intimidating at first because Fungie is huge. At approximately 12 feet long and weighing 800 pounds, he is much larger than most bottlenose dolphins. But it’s worth braving the frigid waters; swimming with him is an experience that you can’t put into words. Swimming with a wild and intelligent dolphin is truly an experience that everyone should have.

Fungie isn’t the only thing to see in the town of Dingle.  Almost everything about Dingle is magical. Dingle is considered to be in the Gaeltacht, which means that it is a Gaelic (Irish)-speaking area. This sleepy little European town is teeming with character – colorfully painted storefronts, charming pubs and delicious seafood restaurants.

There are many bed-and-breakfasts that are peppered throughout the hillsides, and each is unique and charming in its own way. However, my two favorite places to stay are The Dingle Skellig and Benner’s Hotel.  Both are so cozy and inviting; they feel like a bed-and-breakfast with amenities. The staff becomes friends and it always feels as if we are staying with family.

We have visited many times with our children and family and are always surprised at how wonderful the service is. Irish people are so friendly, you won’t want to leave.

While staying in Dingle you can also tour the Dingle Peninsula, which offers some of Ireland’s most breathtaking scenery.  You will see sites that date back to the 6th and 9th centuries. The entire tour is only about 25 miles and follows a circle that always leads visitors, and my heart, right back to the town of Dingle.

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