Renowned Dingle fish processor family making waves with exciting new digital visitor attraction


For over 50 years the well-known Dingle-based Keane family has been the premier processors and exporters of fish through its business, O’Catháin Iasc Teo.

But a decline in fish stocks, especially herring, forced the entrepreneurial family to rethink their operations and to make waves in a new direction! The result is The Wild Atlantic Virtual Experience (WAVE), a high-tech, virtual marine visitor attraction which is keeping alive the spirit of one of Kerry’ most loved characters, Fungi the Dolphin.

Based in the family’s former 17,000 sq ft fish processing factory, WAVE is offering visitors a unique, 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.

While the famous dolphin Fungi features through a life size computer-generated image, the attraction also uncovers a multitude of myths and legends of the sea, allowing visitors to explore shipwrecks and get up close to majestic humpback and orca whales, seals, turtles, and other sea life.

The total project cost over €1,355,000, of which more than €177,00 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 T.D. and implemented by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM). 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.

“The focus is heavily on sea mythology and its influence on Irish culture with an imagined under-water society,” said Micheal. “Due to the scaling, people can get a feel for the actual

size of the fish that come into Dingle Bay. It is done from the perspective of those working in fishing, telling about their daily life and what they see.”

Said Michael: “Without the support of the Brexit Blue Economy Enterprise Development Scheme and BIM we would not have been in a position to make this investment. Since we opened the reaction has been great. We will keep developing the experience, and aim to create an iconic International and local market attraction that highlights the best of the Dingle Peninsula, accessible all year, and further enhancing Dingle as a year round destination.”

Wave is targeting all demographics, young and old, and according to Michael it’s location is a perfect starting point when visiting Dingle.

“There is a large gap in the market in Dingle for family-based entertainment following the disappearance of Fungi which resulted in a decline of the number families visiting the west Kerry town.” he added.

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.

“As a company we were determined to continue in the fishing industry, which we have been part of for over fifty years. But we had to look at solutions to sustain the company and its employees going forward. And we have given them the option of a new career in tourism.”

The Keane’s still do fish processing on a much smaller scale supporting local fisherman with sales through the O’Cathain fish shop to restaurants throughout West kerry and wholesale around Ireland.

Being environmentally sustainable is a huge part of the approach, and Wave aims to be carbon neutral by 2028.

“We have installed energy efficiency lights and solar panels. There is also a cafe with sustainable packaging and offering locally supplied produce. The building has been designed to easily add further initiatives over the coming years.”