Nostalgia: A look back at Apple's 40 years in Cork

Nostalgia: A look back at Apple's 40 years in Cork

Gene Fitzgerald unveiling a plaque to officially open the new Apple Computer plant at Hollyhill in November 1980. Included in the picture are Steve Jobs, Mike Markkula and Alec Wrafter. Picture: Irish Examiner

Apple is celebrating its 40th anniversary in Cork this month.

The tech giant first began operations at Hollyhill on the north side of the city in October 1980, just four years after the company was founded.

The facility, which was Apple's first in Ireland, was officially opened by the then Minister for Labour, Gene Fitzgerald.

Martina Lyons watched by Minister Gene Fitzgerald and Steve Jobs at the Apple facility at Hollyhill in 1980. Picture: Irish Examiner
Martina Lyons watched by Minister Gene Fitzgerald and Steve Jobs at the Apple facility at Hollyhill in 1980. Picture: Irish Examiner

The opening of the facility was also attended by founder Steve Jobs, where he predicted computers would soon be used extensively in the home, in education and in business.

"At the opening of this IDA sponsored industry, it was announced that the second phase of the Apple programme was to proceed immediately.

"The IDA confirmed that work has already commenced on an extension to the plant which will double its size to 84,000 sq. ft during 1981," an Echo article from November 24 stated.

"The first employees commenced work in the Cork factory a few weeks ago and the plant now employs 60 people. 

"The second phase of the development will see employment rise to 250 next year and the ultimate employment target is 724 over a four year period," the article continued. 

Forty years later, Apple now employs more than 6,000 people in Ireland. 

Cork also serves as Apple’s European headquarters, supporting customers across the continent and beyond.

Staff leaving after the day shift at Apple computers, Hollyhill, 1998. Picture: Richard Mills. 
Staff leaving after the day shift at Apple computers, Hollyhill, 1998. Picture: Richard Mills. 

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 more than three decades.

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," she said. 

Work on the Apple G 3 computer production line at Hollyhill, 1999.
Work on the Apple G 3 computer production line at Hollyhill, 1999.

"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."

Grainne Kenny started with Apple in Cork in 1990, when she was 18.

Work on the Apple G 3 computer production line at Hollyhill, 1999.
Work on the Apple G 3 computer production line at Hollyhill, 1999.

"I’ve grown up here," she said. 

"I started working on the manufacturing floor, and now 30 years later, I manage a team of between 20 and 30 manufacturing trainers. 

"It’s been a great journey, and I’ve loved the camaraderie and the community we’ve made together."

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