‘Fungi’ Immortalised in Dingle

A former Dingle fish processing plant is making waves with a new high-tech, virtual marine visitor attraction which is keeping alive the spirit of one of Kerry’s most loved characters, Fungi the Dolphin.

The Wild Atlantic Virtual Experience (WAVE) is offering visitors an  immersive ocean experience, telling the story of marine life through the eyes of the men and women who have fished off the Co. Kerry shores for thousands of years, using Ireland’s largest 360-degree LED screen.

WAVE is the brainchild of the Keane family business, Ó Catháin Iasc Teo, which has long been a vital part of the Dingle community as the main processor and exporter of fish. One of the star attractions is "Fungi", who features through a life-size, computer-generated image. The experience also explores shipwrecks and uncovers the myths and legends of the sea, bringing visitors up close to majestic humpback and orca whales, seals, turtles and other sea life.

The total project cost over €1.35m, of which more than €177,000 was grant aided under the Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme recommended by the Seafood Taskforce established by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD and implemented by Bord Iascaigh Mhara. The scheme is funded by the European Union under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve. 

According to Michael Keane, climate change has hurt the Ó Catháin fisheries business substantially in recent years.

"We were primarily a herring factory, but they have migrated further north due to climate change. There’s almost no stock of herring down here now. We used to work for eight months of the year, now it’s six weeks,"  he said.

"We had to do something to stay in business, and we knew the fish business and the culture, so we eventually hit on the idea of developing WAVE in the 17,000 sq ft building in which we had our fish processing operations."

As well as Fungi, another highlight is a virtual trip through a sunken Spanish Armada ship and German U-boats.

WAVE can accommodate over two hundred tourists per hour and is laid out in five separate rooms, each with its own experience. It aims for 70,000 visitors annually and 16 full-time employees over five years.