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Peter Flynn, the man who created Ireland’s first website, is retiring from UCC. Picture: Tomas Tyner, UCC.
Peter Flynn, the man who created Ireland’s first website, is retiring from UCC. Picture: Tomas Tyner, UCC.

Creator of Ireland's first website logs off after 34 years

THE man who created Ireland’s first website while working at University College Cork has retired after 34 years.

Peter Flynn, who is turning 65 and officially retiring on September 5, was born in England but returned to his family’s native Cork in 1984 to take up a position in academic support at the college.

“I did my first degree at the London College of Printing and moved into computer management when I was working at a print training company in the UK.

“I ended up working with computers there and then moved on to UCC, where I was helping people use computers, which is what I was most interested in.”

Mr Flynn said that computers had been in around for 20 years at that stage but the internet was still in its infancy.

“I came into computing by the back door. There was no way into computing in those days unless you wanted to be a manufacturer or an engineer.”

Explaining how he made the first website in Ireland, and ninth in the world, in 1990/91, Mr Flynn said he was part of a committee looking to create an information network across Europe.

“I ended up as secretary of the group and on the group was a representative called Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web). At one of the meetings, he showed us one of the new things that he was playing with which was a hyper-tech information system.

“We all looked at it and said it was very clever and he showed us how it worked. There were other systems around at the time, but we quickly realised this could kill them off.”

Mr Flynn came back from that meeting and downloaded the software from Tim Berners-Lee’s computer, as it was publicly available on the internet.

“I downloaded onto a computer at UCC and got it running and then put up a page for a project called Curia, now called Celt which is a database of Irish text and it is still around today (https://celt.ucc.ie).”

Mr Flynn ran the Electronic Publishing and Learning Technologies Units at UCC, providing support for e-documents, web services, and teaching and learning resources.

“I enjoyed my time at UCC. I got to work with some extremely bright and very able people. It was a great pleasure,” he said.

The printing and publishing expert intends to remain active in the industry, offering training and advice to people who may need it.

“I have people outside the University looking for help on how they should do things and I am looking forward to being able to pick and choose what I can do now rather than be constrained.

“The world is my oyster.”