除此之外，苹果分布全球的五间子公司之一的苹果国际销售公司（Apple Sales International）也设立于这个约有12万人口的考克郡。这家公司主要负责iPad、iPhone、电脑和其他各种产品的全球经销业务。【苹果欧洲运营公司（Apple Operations Europe）、苹果国际运营公司（Apple Operations International）、苹果国际经销公司（Apple Distribution International）和苹果运营中心（Apple Operations）亦都设立于此。】这幢由红砖与玻璃构成的大楼附近并没有四通八达的高速公路，只有大片的草地和空荡荡的足球场，或许还能看到几匹咀嚼着青草的马儿。几英里开外，在布拉尼风雨欲来的天空下，奶牛们依然整天待在草地上，就跟乔布斯1980年来考克郡设立苹果海外运营中心时一模一样。
但爱尔兰早已让科技巨头们赚的盆满钵满。驱车离开库克郡机场的这一路，最先映入眼帘的一片群楼是亚马逊（Amazon）和IBM的运营中心；戴尔（Dell）和马萨诸塞州的云计算公司EMC都在库克郡马洪区有自己的大楼。更多的美国科技公司则涌向了都柏林的硅港区（Silicon Docks），以至于爱尔兰工业发展局（Ireland's Industrial Development Agency），或称IDA，最近甚至专门制作了一个通过照片来展示各公司总部大楼的应用软件， Facebook、微软（Microsoft）和拥有爱尔兰全国最高大楼的谷歌（Google）均在展示之列。
he biggest technology company on Earth has a sizable portion of its operations here on the outskirts of Cork, a provincial town in southern Ireland, up a hill past a traffic circle marked with a large statue of Jesus Christ on the cross. In other words, this is about as far as one can get from Apple's Silicon Valley base of Cupertino, more than five thousand miles away.
And yet Cork -- population about 120,000 -- is home to five of Apple's global subsidiaries, including Apple Sales International, which manages the company's gargantuan global distribution and sales of iPads, iPhones, computers, and its many other devices. (Also here are Apple Operations Europe, Apple Operations International, Apple Distribution International, and Apple Operations.) Yet there are no multi-lane highways across the street from its redbrick and glass building. Rather, a pair of horses munches on a rangy patch of grass, near to an empty soccer field, while a few miles away, dairy cows laze on the green fields of Blarney under a stormy sky -- just as they did decades ago, when Steve Jobs flew into Cork in 1980 to open Apple's overseas operation.
From the front, Apple HQ could well be mistaken for a high school, bland and modern, and just three stories high. And foot traffic is thin enough that when Fortune wandered up to the entrance on Tuesday morning, security guards quickly took notice. Was there anyone we could say hello to, we asked? No, the nearest public-relations staffer was in London.
Despite that, the activities inside this modest building have provoked a firestorm in Washington, which has now rippled all the way back to Ireland. In U.S. Senate hearings last May, Apple (AAPL) struggled to explain how it had managed to avoid an estimated $44 billion or so in U.S. taxes, by taking advantage of Ireland's 12.5% corporate tax rate, as well as mechanisms that effectively rendered it stateless for tax purposes. One loophole has allowed Apple and others to shunt billions in profits from Ireland through the Netherlands to the tax-free British Virgin Islands, by setting up a web of subsidiaries perfectly tailored to avoiding taxes, in the famously-named "Double Irish with a Dutch sandwich" accounting method. Apple insists it contributes about $1 in every $40 in corporate taxes the IRS collects. And while Sen. John McCain (himself a descendent of Irish immigrants from Ulster) admits Apple is a big taxpayer, he pointed out last May that it was also "among America's largest tax avoiders."
Those accounting acrobatics could be changing -- if only by a little. Ireland's Finance Minister Michael Noonan declared in mid-October that the country was finally canceling the Double Irish. Politicians in Dublin do seem keen to shake off the image of running a tax haven for tech giants, with Prime Minister Enda Kenny telling Fortune and other journalists in Dublin on Wednesday evening that he wanted to "be on the forefront of the response" in the global crackdown on tax avoidance.
But Ireland is now stuffed with tech giants. Drive out of Cork's small airport, and among the first buildings you see are large operations for Amazon (AMZN) and IBM (IBM); Dell and the Massachusetts cloud-computing company EMC (EMC) each has a large building in Cork's Mahon district. In Dublin, so many U.S. technology companies are squeezed into the city's Silicon Docks that Ireland's Industrial Development Agency, or IDA, recently launched an app showing photos of headquarters buildings for dozens of companies, including Facebook, Microsoft, and Google, which now has the tallest building in the country.