Skibbereen’s Digital Week part of plan to become Cork’s digital hub

Rollout of high-speed broadband as important for farmers as proper roads

Farmers often claim they spend little or no time on computers, but the reality is large numbers log on to Done Deal, Facebook and Twitter, according to farmer William Kingston.

The plan for the rollout of high-speed broadband in Skibbereen is a much-needed boost, said Mr Kingston, who lives in Drimoleague in west Cork.

“Farmers often say they don’t spend much time on computers but many live on it. They are on farming discussion groups with questions. It’s fabulous. It breaks things down.”

Up to now, broadband in Skibbereen has “been so patchy”.

READ MORE

“We need something we can rely on. Realistically, having proper wifi is nearly as important as the state of the roads.”

The broadband improvements are tied to plans to create a new digital hub in the west Cork town – one driven by Dimplex chief executive and west Cork native Seán O’Driscoll, along with many others.

This week, Skibbereen is having its own Digital Week,where senior business figures, including Dee Forbes from Discovery Networks, will highlight the possibilities digital communications offers rural Ireland.

Honour

The heart of the hub will be in the old bakery, which will be renamed ludgate@Skibbereen in honour of

Percy Ludgate

, who lived less than 100m from the building and designed the first portable computer, in 1907.

The building will be completed later this month. In five years, it is hoped it will be home to 500 high-tech jobs.

Local businessman Eddie Nealon, who runs an educational company offering aptitude tests, is impressed, and said Ludgate is "giving great confidence to the area".

“We would love to be in the Ludgate offices because of the work environments – the benefits of the entrepreneurial environment.

“The steering group are very determined to make this work,” he said.

Inspired by their father, Eamon, a career guidance teacher, Eddie and his brother set up Career Services in 2008, before Eddie left an IT job in London to return to west Cork.

West Cork offers the lifestyle, but high-quality broadband is central to the business’s survival, he said.

“Our business is growing quicker than we can handle, which is great.

“We have hired two people. Siro [broadband plan] is on the way, which is vital for a business like ours that is moving more online.

“There are only a handful of people who do what we do in Ireland so there are always opportunities.

“I travel around doing courses but the digital market is vital for us. Digital Week is giving great confidence to the town. Nobody wants failure.

“It has to be a success,” he said.