Sandymount’s Silver Surfer

Sandymount's Silver Surfer

Since 2010, Age Action, in association with Google, has been encouraging senior citizens to engage with computers and the internet through the Silver Surfer awards.

This year’s awards ceremony took place at Google’s Barrow Street headquarters on October 2nd when Sandymount’s Michael Gorman took home the Golden IT award, a prize issued to an individual over the age of 80 who has used technology to enhance their life.

The win took 86 year-old Michael by surprise, as his daughter and two sons had entered him as a candidate in secret, only informing him on the day of the final announcements.
Michael spent his entire working life at Bord Fáilte and it was there, in the early eighties, that he first encountered the world of computers. He attributes the help of the supportive in-house IT team there with kick-starting his interest in the, then new, world of computers.

Using his newly acquired computer skills he began editing the popular magazine Ireland of the Welcomes, a publication aimed at the Irish diaspora with over 190,000 readers, most of whom are based in North America.

In 1992, Michael retired and ten years ago, when he began to experience mobility issues, he purchased a home computer. “First of all I used it for very basic things like sending messages and getting general information, but gradually I started discovering its full range of uses,” he tells NewsFour, “It’s great for keeping one’s mind active, which is very useful when you’re getting older and not in so much contact with the world around you.”

Michael proudly boasts of being one of the first Irish owners of Apple’s iPad tablet, a device he describes as “wonderful”.

Fluent in French, Spanish and Russian, Michael travelled extensively as a younger man and now enjoys listening to foreign language radio stations through the internet. “It’s nice that I can keep my knowledge of languages active this way,” he says. A keen fan of music from the twenties through forties, Michael also enjoys listening to online stations that specialise in the music of his childhood.

Michael regularly uses the internet to correspond with family and friends. “You can use Skype to talk to someone as far away as Australia,” he marvels.

An avid reader whose eyesight isn’t as strong as it once was, Michael now uses his iPad to listen to audio-books, keeping his hobby alive without causing strain on his eyes.

Earlier this year, Michael decided to stake out his own corner of the web and set up his very own blog, The Commonplace Book (which can be found at, named after the books that Victorian ladies used to record items of interest they wished to remember. In a similar fashion, Michael uses the blog to record interesting quotes and anecdotes he comes across from famous figures like Winston Churchill and Groucho Marx.

Michael believes technology can improve an older person’s quality of life but understands that computers can be intimidating. He advises thinking about your primary intended use before deciding on a device. “You might want to use it for reading, corresponding or even as a map system,” he says.

Michael also suggests considering whether or not you require the ability to take the device with you on your travels. “If so, find a conveniently-sized device, as when you get older you’re not so capable of carrying heavy things,” he advises, “That’s why I went for the iPad; it has a good-sized screen and it’s very light.”

Age Action provides training and support for senior citizens wishing to follow Michael’s lead into the world of computers. You can contact them on 01 4756 989 or online at

Pictured above: Golden IT award winner Michael Gorman poses with his certificate.

By Eric Hillis