Last night, at around midnight, the absolute capstone on this dreadful year popped up on my facebook page, as it did on facebook pages around the country: A message from a facebook page in Dingle devoted to Fungie the Dolphin, saying that the poor chap had probably kicked the bucket.

“Well”, I thought”, “Flip”.

Except the word wasn’t, as you might imagine, “flip”.

The post breaking the news is gone, now, but it stated that Funghie the Dolphin had not been seen in two days, and that the worst was feared for him.

Fungie is, at minimum, 29 years old, though he may be older. He’s been in Dingle for about three decades, so it’s likely that he’s a few years older than that, since he was a young dolphin when he first showed up, but not a total baby. The average lifespan of a bottlenose Dolphin is about forty years. So sadly, much like Queen Elizabeth or Pope Benedict or any other ailing celebrity, the course of nature can be expected to deliver bad news at some point within the next decade.

But not today, gladly. An update:

FUNGIE . It has been brought to our attention that some upset has been caused by another page stating that Fungie had been missing for the last 2 days. Just to be very clear this is not true. Bridget and Jimmy are not in Dingle at the moment but we can assure you we check on fungies wellbeing daily, from Fishermen, Fungie boats, and all his other friends and Fungie was alongside one of the Dingle Fishing boats yesterday morning. Thank you for all the texts emails phone calls and messages and we are sorry for any upset caused. We will keep you posted.

That’s reason for very cautious optimism. As yet, no photographs of the old fella have appeared, at least none that have been taken since Monday. But a confirmed sighting is good news.

I’m 36 years old now. I had the great fortune to meet Fungie the dolphin about 25 years ago, when I was ten or eleven. It left me with an abiding love of dolphins, and wildlife. Let’s hope he can give that gift to other Irish children for many years to come.