Donegal native Seamus Harkin from Creeslough has won the prestigious ‘Hobbies on the Net Award’ due to his phenomenal use of technology in his daily life.
The awards recognize the talents and achievements of those aged over 50 who have learned how to use technology to enhance their daily lives.
Like many, Seamus left school at the tender age of 14, but always had a curiosity about digital technology. Seamus is a well known and much sought after fiddle repair man whose knowledge of computers and the Internet is self-taught.
In 1986 he was involved in installing the first computer in a national school in Ireland, a BBC Compact. To date, he has written seven books - all on his computer - and he talks online to his son in Sydney and keeps in touch with friends and family through social media. He edits his photo collection on Photoshop and buys old fiddles on eBay which he lovingly restores and sells to clients all over Ireland. Known locally as the “Singing Undertaker”, his life has been shaped by his enthusiasm for technology and self-taught skills. Without technology, Seamus says he would not have published his books, songs or bought old fiddles on eBay and he would not be the man he is today. Seamus was nominated by his daughter-in-law Janet Harkin
Speaking at the awards ceremony Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte T.D., said, “Our Silver Surfers have set a fine example by demonstrating in their own lives some of the ways we can benefit by embracing the opportunities available to us all online. These are inspiring stories of ordinary people, many who left school early and are now an example to all of us on what we, like them, can achieve through the internet.”
Sinead Gibney, Head of Social Action at Google said, “It is just amazing to see the quality of entrants in this year’s awards, all of our winners stories demonstrate how using the Internet, has given them increased independence as well as a chance to connect with more people and pursue their interests. We’re passionate about digital literacy for older people and are delighted to sponsor these awards.”
Age Action Chief Executive Robin Webster said, “It is important that we encourage as many older people as possible to learn how to use computers and new technology. These technologies enable older people to play a full part in their communities. New technology, as today’s winners show, can dramatically enhance the quality of older people’s lives. We hope that the example of today’s winners will encourage many more older people to take the plunge and begin learning these important new skills.”
The overall winner of the ‘Google Silver Surfer Award’ on the day was David Lowen, a 61 year old grandfather and music aficionado from Greystones, Co. Wicklow . Between four and five finalists were shortlisted in each category of this year’s awards. The shortlisted entrants were chosen for their amazing talents and passion for learning how to use the Internet to improve their lives and in turn those of their friends and family.
Five awards were presented at the ceremony. They were:
- IT Tutor of the of the Year Award : Anne Egan, Dundalk, Co. Louth
- Hobbies on the Net Award : Seamus Harkin Creeslough, Co. Donegal
- Golden IT Award : Michael Gorman, Sandymount, Dublin 4
- New to IT Award : Austin McPartlin, Navan, Co. Meath