Ireland is often at the cutting edge of the technology industries. Its lucrative tax deals have attracted many of the big guns to its shores. Google has its EMEA HQ in Dublin, and you can check out some photos of the offices if you want to feel some workplace envy. Apple has long since had a strong relationship with Ireland (you can read how Apple avoids paying tax due to Irish tax deals). Facebook has recently been in the news regarding its Irish tax situation too. Ireland’s tax benefits have been very attractive to startup companies and emerging tech players, and it’s also very welcoming to other online businesses such as online gaming sites like But in the late 70s and early 80s it was the video games industry that was being championed from Ireland.

Atari was the biggest gaming company in the world in 1978. It needed a European base of operations in order to build arcade cabinets locally, so that they could save on international shipping costs. Ireland became that base. Or more specifically, Tipperary. Not only was there a good tax deal in Ireland, but Tipperary had a local kitchen company that could help build the cabinets and also a local electrical company that could help make the wire harnesses. The PCB game boards were all shipped over from California. And after a few teething issues initially, the Irish production plant was producing around 150 Atari arcade cabinets every week. This number increased to around 2,000 per month as they went on, and pretty much every major Atari title between 1978 and 1984 was made at Tipperary. There were apparently even a couple of unique ones that were only made in Ireland.

So if you are based in Europe and you own an Atari cab, unless you got it shipped over from the US, there is a good chance your machine was built in Tipperary. I’m not privy to all the little ways you can differentiate them but I believe they have a plate on the back that mentions Tipperary or Ireland, but also I think often the wood or the artwork is slightly different too. The Tipperary workers obviously did a good job though. They were ploughing through these machines and many of them are still going strong today. It’s like that line in the movie Titanic, “built in Ireland. Solid as a rock. Big Irish hands.

I will now bow to the expertise of Tony Temple, and I recommend that you read Tony’s excellent in-depth article on this subject in his post at Arcade Blogger which also has some great photos (banner photo above is taken from the Ardfinnan Facebook page, but I was made aware of it from Tony’s post). And this other post has some interesting info too

I have only heard about these Irish cabinets in a few places online, the main one being Tony’s article. I’ve heard them mentioned a few times on YouTube videos but there’s never been much info about them. This video on YouTube shows an Atari Dig Dug from Ireland at 13:27 in the video, and they mention how the coin doors normally have a blue coin switch which tells you it’s an Irish machine (as well as the sticker on the back that says Made in Ireland), but I’m surprised there aren’t more differences and traits to watch out for. I’m sure there are and I’ll keep scouring the web for more info.

By the way, don’t get sidetracked on Google like I did with this article about a boy from Tipperary who got stuck inside an arcade machine!