Co Antrim boy's 'Come Home Fungie' appeal touches hearts in Dingle
THE search for Fungie the Dolphin, who has been missing from the Co Kerry harbour of Dingle for more than a week, has inspired a Co Antrim boy whose artwork has been sent to the seaside town.
Six-year-old James Brankin, who lives with his family in the village of Stoneyford, enjoyed a boat trip to interact with Fungie during a family trip to Dingle several years ago.
Having learned of the beloved bottlenose dolphin's disappearance, which has left locals concerned for its wellbeing, James decided to paint a picture of his favourite sea mammal along with the plea "Come home Fungie".
His mother Jane Brankin sent the picture to Kerry County Council, who then forwarded it to their staff in Dingle, where it now hangs on a door in council premises.
RTÉ reporter Seán Mac an tSíthigh yesterday tweeted an image of the picture to show how far across Ireland Fungie's disappearance was having an impact, describing James' painting as "heartbreaking".
Speaking to The Irish News, Jane said: "We met Fungie during a family trip to Dingle a couple of years back and we all really enjoyed the experience. We could tell how important he was to the area, and we were upset to learn he hasn't been located.
"James was just a toddler at the time of the visit but Fungie had a big impact on him.
"James decided he would draw a picture and said he wanted it to be on the news, and so it's amazing to see that not only is his picture been shown to so many people, it's now on display in Dingle thanks to the council."
She added: "We just hope that Fungie comes home soon."
Hope has been fading in the search for the dolphin, which first appeared in Dingle harbour in 1983 and was last spotted last Tuesday.
Searches involving boats and divers have so far failed to locate his whereabouts, and there are fears he has died or left with a pod of other dolphins.