Apple is celebrating its 40th anniversary in Cork this month.
The tech giant opened its first facility in the country here back in 1980, employing 60 people.
Forty years later, Apple now employs more than 6,000 people here and has a sprawling campus in the city.
Cork also serves as Apple’s European headquarters, supporting customers across the continent and beyond.
The original manufacturing facility has expanded and is now part of a campus that includes AppleCare, Operations, Logistics, and a variety of other teams staffed by a diverse group of employees representing over 90 nationalities.
Cathy Kearney is Apple’s vice president of European Operations and has been with the company in Cork for over 30 years.
Speaking on the occasion of the company’s 40th anniversary here, she said that the Cork campus is more than a place.
“We’re a family,” says Kearney. “And every day, we strive to uphold Apple’s collective values through our work, whether that’s protecting our planet, defending the right to privacy, or making sure education and technology are accessible to everyone. I’m so honoured to work with such a talented, diverse, and compassionate team every day.”
The impacts of Apple’s position in Cork are felt beyond the facility and, marking its anniversary, Apple shared some of the details of the voluntary work carried out by its employees.
Since 2015, Apple’s Giving programme in Cork has supported more than 400 registered charities in Ireland.
For every hour a Cork employee volunteers, Apple matches their time with a monetary donation to the same charity.
So far in 2020, 43 per cent of all Cork employees have participated in volunteering activities.
Apple product trainer, Alvaro Porcel, co-ordinates volunteer engagements for Age Action, which provides free technology classes for senior citizens.
“This is a charity that is very close to my heart,” says Porcel. “It’s not just about learning how to use your device. There’s a huge social aspect as well. Most of these elderly people are very isolated. Before Covid-19, there were weekly face-to-face events, but now we have phone calls instead, and when they tell you, ‘This is the only phone call I’m going to get today,’ you can feel how much it means to them.”
Apple employees have also been volunteering weekly at Terence MacSwiney School in Cork for the past five years, helping to teach students coding, music, photography, and video. That has continued during the pandemic, with volunteers mentoring students through virtual sessions.
Principal Phil O’Flynn has seen what the partnership has done for both her students and for Cork over time.
“Apple brought an awful lot of hope to the whole Cork community,” says O’Flynn, whose school is also celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. “And I think that culture of hope has been sustained throughout the four decades that it’s been here.”
Terence MacSwiney School also participates in Apple’s Transition Year experience, which has given more than 1,600 students throughout Ireland the opportunity to come to the Cork campus and learn about potential career paths, coding skills, and how they can make a positive difference in the world.
O’Flynn believes the interactions her students have had with Apple employees through both programmes have changed their perspective on what is possible for the future.
“One of our coding mentors works in app quality review, and she pointed out to our students that her job didn’t exist five or six years ago,” says O’Flynn. “But it’s about developing the skills so that you’re highly adaptable in the employment market, and now our students can imagine doing that. This kind of mentoring that takes place shoulder to shoulder, you can’t buy that — it’s just priceless.”