Ireland’s youngest coder is only 5

17 Jun 2016

5-year-old Tiernan Mangan who has built his own Ninja Slayer computer game

Ireland’s youngest coder is a 5-year-old called Tiernan Mangan, who has created a Ninja Slayer video game, according to CoderDojo and the organisers of this weekend’s Coolest Projects Awards

Mangan will appear at this weekend’s CoderDojo Coolest Projects Awards at the RDS, where more than 10,000 people are expected to congregate to see the creations of Ireland’s young coding elite.

Mangan, who hails from Hollymount in Mayo, created a game that involves duelling with sabres while scoring points on a laptop.

Future Human

“I got the idea while I was watching fencing with my uncle in Japan over Skype and I thought that would be great fun to do with light sabres,” said Tiernan.

“My mentors Nora and Aoibheann in the CoderDojo helped me to read blocks of code – I knew where to put them myself.”

The family code

Tiernan’s brother Cian (7) and sister Aoibheann (9) will also be among the participating innovators.

Cian, who has developed a Star Wars maths quiz was the youngest coder at last year’s awards.

Aoibheann has teamed up with classmate Nora Keaveney (11) to create ‘Twista Sista’, a coded bilingual version of the popular board game Twister, which is aimed at junior school teachers.

All the Mangan siblings are members of their local CoderDojo, which was established by their mother Yseult, who is also principal of Cloghans Hill NS and who will be leading a 10-strong contingent to Coolest Projects.

“I taught myself the basics and began a CoderDojo club, which is in huge demand in the area,” Yseult said.

“CoderDojo has something for everyone and you can do nothing wrong as it’s all about learning.

“Cian won the Scratch finals last year and was only beaten in the Eir Junior Spider Awards this year by his own sister with her Don’t Pass the Raspberry Jam website for credit-card-sized computers.

“I was very surprised when I saw Tiernan’s plan for his game. I queried if I was even able to help him.

“His mentors helped him as he can’t quite read properly yet to develop the blocks all by himself – but the idea and the planning are all his own.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years