A dolphin's decades-long stay made this Irish town famous. A year after he left for good, Dingle bids farewell to Fungie

Updated 1604 GMT (0004 HKT) October 17, 2021

Dingle, Ireland (CNN)When Ireland entered one of the world's most restrictive pandemic lockdowns in early 2020, Jimmy Flannery was worried how one of his best friends would cope.

Fungie, a bottlenose dolphin, had been living in Dingle, in southwest County Kerry, since 1983. From the day he arrived there, Fungie set himself out from the rest, throwing fish he'd caught onto local fisherman's boats and accompanying cold-sea swimmers as they trained.
Bottlenose dolphins' mouths naturally curve upwards, giving the appearance that they are always smiling. But locals would say that Fungie -- pronounced Fun-ghee -- was doing just that. It was this quality that compelled droves of tourists from around the world to visit this remote part of Ireland, and how a booming tourism industry was established at Europe's edge.
Fungie approaches a local fishing boat in Dingle Bay in 2002.
But after 37 years, Fungie vanished without a trace.
Now, a year after he was last seen, Flannery is hosting a memorial to celebrate the beloved dolphin.
He and other local boat operators offered free boat trips out to the entrance of the Dingle harbor on Sunday, with emotions running high as the sun finally broke through a blanket of grey cloud on the anniversary of Fungie's disappearance, leaving a rainbow in its wake. "He's with us today," Flannery said, as his first trip left the harbor.
Local boat operators leave the Dingle harbor for a Fungie memorial in Dingle, Ireland on Sunday.