Gaming granny scoops top Google Silver Surfer award

2 Oct 2012

Pauline O'Connor with her daughter, Aine. Photo by Conor Healy Photography

A grandmother who plays video games with her grandkids, a septuagenarian Skype tutor, and a 96-year-old digital archivist have all been honoured at the Google Silver Surfer Awards with Age Action.

Avid Facebook user Pauline O’Connor from Carbury, Co Kildare, was taught to use the internet by her grandchildren, but it’s her penchant for video games that saw her crowned the overall winner at today’s Google Silver Surfer Awards with Age Action.

The 70-year-old regularly challenges her 10 grandkids to a game on the PlayStation, Wii or Nintendo DS. “Every Sunday when we go for breakfast to her house, time is dedicated to figuring out the new challenge or sharing hints and tips with her grandchildren,” said O’Connor’s daughter Aine, who nominated her for the award. “It warms my heart to see my mother connecting with my children through technology,” she added.

O’Connor was presented with the award and a brand new Google Chromebook laptop by Minster of State at the Department of Communications Fergus O’Dowd, TD.

All ages

Other award winners at the ceremony in Google’s Dublin headquarters today included 64-year-old Dermot Perry, who was named Most Dedicated IT Learner. Perry, who lives in Our Lady’s Hospice in Harold’s Cross, Dublin, was nominated by hospice worker Aidan Garvey, who sees him using the computer on a daily basis.

Perry suffers from motor neurone disease and has lost the use of his arms. He was recently given a tablet computer which he operates using switches and a large rollerball mouse he can control with his feet.

John O’Keeffe, a 76-year-old Carlow man, taught himself how to use a computer a few years ago and opted to share his knowledge with other pensioners in the community by holding classes on how to use Skype. He was presented with the IT Tutor Award.

John Kavanagh (67) from Ballinteer in Dublin, won the Hobbies on the Net Award for developing a social media platform dedicated to his interest in the blues. The online club has more than 300 members worldwide and 1,800 likes on Facebook.

Finally, 96-year-old Catherine Talty from Clounlaheen in west Co Clare won the Golden IT Award for mastering digital technology that helped to preserve the past. Local history group Cuimhneamh an Chláir (CAC) would visit Talty to record her stories of times past, but she decided to learn to use the digital recorder herself in order to document her tales for the CAC archive, contributing 83 files on folklore and tradition from the mid-19th century all the way up the Seventies.

“All the winners of the Google Silver Surfer Awards with Age Action are fantastic examples of what can be achieved with technology at any age,” said O’Dowd. “They show us all that there is no need to be afraid and they could even teach us a thing or two about technology.”

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic