Northern Ireland news

Dopey Dick the whale returns to haunt Derry in time for Halloween

The whale nicknamed Dopey Dick which made its way up the river and into Derry in 1977 was found to be living off the west coast of Scotland earlier this year. Picture by Genevieve Leaper, Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, PA Wire
Paul Ainsworth

A WHALE that wowed Derry when it got lost and ended up in Lough Foyle is to return to the city after almost 40 years – only this time as a Halloween ‘ghost’.

The famous orca whale earned the nickname Dopey Dick when it strayed into the waters of Derry in November 1977 while searching for food.

The whale was a welcome distraction from the misery of the Troubles and it spent several days swimming in the lough as failed attempts were made to guide it back out to sea.

Eventually, Dick departed to the Atlantic of his own accord, having secured his place in Derry folklore.

Now his legacy is being celebrated in the city that has taken Halloween celebrations to its heart.

Thousands of spectators are expected to line the banks of the Foyle to catch a glimpse of a replica of Dopey Dick, which is the brainchild of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design Royal College of Art, in partnership with the Public Health Agency.

They have created a life-size version covered by patchwork quilts which will be floated along the river. It is hoped the display will promote the Foyle’s waters as a site for recreation and healthy activities.

The whale replica has previously been displayed at the riverbank during the Foyle Maritime Festival.

The Public Health Agency’s Brendan Bonner said it is hoped the project "will help change the perceptions of the river and change the environment to one that promotes physical activity, creativity and learning with the potential for income generation and promotion of positive health and social well-being messages”.

Dopey Dick will be at Waterloo Place on Saturday 29 and Sunday October 31 between noon and 8pm where he will be joined by musicians, poets, writers and storytellers.

On Halloween night, the whale will return to the water with the help of the Lough Agency, Foyle Paddlers and Foyle Search and Rescue.

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