A DINGLE local has responded to what he describes as "outrageous" claims that Fungie the dolphin was killed in a shooting.
Rumours have been swirling in the last few days that Ireland's favourite porpoise, who has been missing since October, could have met his maker via the barrel of a gun.
But local Jimmy Flannery, who founded and runs Dingle Sea Seafari Tours, insists that the rumours are nonsense and that no one would ever want to hurt the gentle dolphin.
"In my mind, this would never, ever, ever have happened," he told the Irish Mirror.
"I don't believe for one second that anybody in Dingle, or anybody anywhere, would have harmed Fungie.
"As far as I was concerned, there was never anything behind that. It's just a stupid rumour.
"Really, it was just one of those things that somebody, somewhere dreamed up, I bet you such and such did that.
"It was probably something that was said off the cuff and meant nothing."
Exactly what has happened to Fungie is still unknown.
The dolphin, who has lived in Dingle Harbour for over 35 years, barely ever went more than 24 hours without being spotted by locals in the bay.
His disappearance sparked concerns that he might have died, but no body has been found.
It's thought that as many as 50 people relied on Fungie for employment in Dingle.
Fungie would notoriously approach boats and kayakers with endearing curiosity, providing unrivalled tourism opportunities for anyone who wanted to get up close and personal with a wild dolphin.
Dingle residents are still coming to terms with Fungie's disappearance, inlcuding Mr Flannery.
"I myself, I knew him for 33 years, I know I haven't dealt with it at all yet," he added.
"I know when I go back to Dingle and go out, I'll still spend a couple of hours, and that's month and months after, before I'll believe it, that he is actually gone.
"It'll be the first time in most of my adult life that I ever went out to the entrance of the harbour and he wasn't there.
"On a personal level, it hasn't sunk in with me that he's not with us anymore."