You probably haven’t heard of Athenry*. It’s a tiny town in County Galway, Ireland, not far from the Atlantic coast. But it’s also soon to be home to one of Apple’s new multi-million pound European data centres, which the company announced in a press release on Monday.
The Silicon Valley tech company said on Monday that it’s spending €1.7 billion, or around £1.25 billion, on two new data centres in Ireland and Denmark. Apple says each site will measure 166,000 square metres and they are expected to be up and running by 2017. Apple CEO Tim Cook explained that the projects are Apple’s biggest in Europe to date. Each facility will use 100% renewable energy and power Apple services such as iTunes and iMessage for European customers. Cook says the buildings will be “some of our most advanced green building designs yet.”
Here’s a rendering of one of the new facilities:
The Danish complex will be in Viborg, a city of about 100,000 people. But in Ireland, Apple has picked Athenry, a tiny town of just 3,000. It’s a quaint, rural Irish western outpost 25km from the city of Galway. It has a parish church called St. Mary’s, a medieval castle, and a train station. You might (at a push) be aware of it through the Irish song, “The Fields of Athenry.” It’s archetypal Ireland. People on the Athenry Facebook page seem quite excited about the developments.
Here’s another shot of Athenry (very picturesque):
And this is what everyday life in Athenry is like:
Apple’s European HQ is in Cork, Ireland, and it now employs around 18,300 people across the continent. It’s expanding quickly. Apple writes that it has spent €7.8 billion with European companies and suppliers there to help build products and support operations around the world.
The town looks really pretty:
As some regional newspapers have reported, Ireland is a popular choice for tech companies because of the predictable weather. RTE explains that regular, chilly temperatures mean that the money spent on cooling the vast amount of equipment used to store information is kept to a minimum. RTE also references Apple’s tax practises in the country. These issues are ongoing, The Verge notes.
The train station is probably going to get much busier…
Apple (unsurprisingly) doesn’t mention tax in the press release. It does say, though, that it plans to recover land previously used to harvest trees, provide outdoor education space for local schools, and create a walking trail for the local community. Apple also writes that it wants to make full use of the wind in the area (it’s very windy on the west coast of Ireland) and that the projects have the “lowest environmental impact yet for an Apple data centre.” Once constructed, about 100 jobs are expected to be created.
Here’s the medieval castle:
*Editor’s note: You probably won’t have heard of Athenry unless you’re a fan of Test rugby, in which case you’ll have heard the song “The Fields of Athenry”, the unofficial rugby anthem of Irish supporters wherever they play.