FUNGIE was the star of the show again last weekend as a photograph of one of the world's famous cetaceans earned Rudi Schamart and Jeannine Massett from Annascaul first place in the Irish Examiner Reader's Photography Competition.
From the 4,000 photos or so submitted by readers throughout the year, Rudi's photograph of Jeannine and Fungie was deemed the overall winner and made the front-page of the Irish Examiner last Saturday.
Rudi and Jeannine, who are originally from Holland but who have been based in Dingle and West Kerry for many years, have cultivated something of a global following for themselves with their Facebook page 'Fungie Forever' which documents their almost daily trips out to the harbour to see the dolphin who was 30 years in Dingle in 2013.
Their photographs, which have also featured on the front-page of The Kerryman and feature on these pages on a regular basis, capture Rudi and Jeannine's close interaction with Fungie, who is truly a phenomenon in his own right.
"The first photo I sent in was the one I made of Rudi and it made the front page [of The Irish Examiner]," Jeannine told The Kerryman. "Some months later I sent one in that Rudi had taken of me that I really loved because of the eye contact between Fungie and me and the colours, the blue of the sea and the pink of my coat ... and that also made the newspaper."
"We did not even think of it again until we got a phone call from The Irish Examiner in December asking us if they could do a little interview because Rudi's photo was in the final selection. When we looked at all the beautiful entries, we thought we would never have a chance to win."
"This week we got the call and we were invited to the office of The Irish Examiner where we really warmly welcomed with champagne by members of the jury and the team. We had a lovely lunch together and a wonderful time," said Jeannine. "We are absolutely delighted, honoured and thrilled."