The country’s only colony of gentoo penguins at Dingle Oceanworld became budding artists during lockdown when they started to dip their feet in animal-friendly paint before waddling around to make their distinctive artworks.
In a nod to the county’s All-Ireland contending footballers this week, the penguins have been using the Kerry colours in their creations.
“I hope they’ll be Happy Feet on Sunday”, said Dingle Oceanworld director, Kevin Flannery.
The staff dreamed up the art classes for the highly sociable birds during lockdown to keep them stimulated.
Uisce, who was born in the €1 million Arctic enclosure, was putting his best foot forward this week by leaving green and gold footprints on his paintings which go on sale in aid of conservation in the aquarium.
“Uisce is the main artist”, he said, “the paintings are going down well with the Kerry supporters this week.”
The marine biologist said the Kerry colours are everywhere this week among the visitors streaming into the aquarium.
“You can see the excitement building up, we’re seeing people selling flags and other stuff on the sides of the road.
“We’re seeing lots of Kerry jerseys around the aquarium. A lot of young people are wearing the GAA jerseys.
“We’re also seeing our neighbours with their green and white jerseys visiting us now that they have Liam MacCarthy.”
He said the painting is all part of various ways to stimulate the colony.
“The keepers thought it would be a good idea during lockdown and they put in the paint they walked all over it.
“It’s something is different. You just have to stimulate them all the time.
“We give them CD players and balls and things they can pick on, all sorts of things to keep them stimulated.”
He said the Dingle community is hoping for the double in Kerry over the next few weeks.
“The ladies football team is in the final for the first time in 10 years.
“The females deserve as good as the males. They are playing the week after.”
Meanwhile, in Hennebery’s Sports store in Tralee, there is a programme in the window from the last time Galway and Kerry met in 1965.
“People are stopping at the window”, said owner Brian Hennebery, “I have a 1965 programme from Kerry and Galway game the last time they met and a 1965 jersey worn by one of the Kerry players at the final in the display.
“Galway won that one, we’ll say nothing”, he joked referring to the last time the countries met in 1965.
“We owe them one from then but I suppose we’ve got a few since.”
There is also a Galway jersey worn by Ja (Jarlath) Fallon representing the west of Ireland country in the display.
Brian said the buzz has been building around Tralee since the semi-final.
“I suppose that was the renewing of old rivalries between Dublin and Kerry. There has been a good demand for jerseys and T-shirts and flags. Most people have got their tickets at this stage.
“Kieran Donaghy was in this week getting a few flags.
“It’s eight years since they won so there is certainly pent-up demand or excitement for a result. You’re hearing of a lot of people travelling.
“That’s a serious drought in Kerry. There is nearly an expectation every year that you should be collecting.”
He said the players are a big part of the community.
“You have would David Moran on the street most days around town, and Tommy Walsh and Killian Young. They are so open and accessible.
“Now this week there is no sign of anybody, generally speaking.
“Galway and Kerry play a good open brand of football and people are looking forward to an exciting game. Kerry are on an upward curve and if they perform, they’ll win. It’s all on the day.
“They are a young team. There is fierce excitement.”
He said there will be a huge reception for the team in Tralee on Monday in the town irrespective of the result.
“If they win the homecoming Monday night will be packed and if the team is beaten there will still be a big crowd out to welcome them home because they’ve done exceptionally well.