It's a Long Way from Penny Apples

Bill Cullen

Forge Books



Trade Paperback

384 Pages



Request Desk Copy Request Exam Copy
There are many ways to confront tragedy and hard times. Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt's tragic yet ultimately uplifting tale of how one man overcame adversity and found happiness in the New World, is a compelling story that has touched thousands of readers. It's a Long Way from Penny Apples is another view of the Irish experience, another man's journey out of the grinding poverty that held an entire generation of the people of Ireland in its thrall.

Born and bred in the rough inner city slums of Summerhill in Dublin, Bill Cullen was one of fourteen children. Selling on the streets from the age of six, be it fruit, flowers, newspapers, Christmas decorations, soccer colors, or programs, was a means of putting food on the table for Bill and his family. He finished school at thirteen to go on the street full-time. In 1956 Bill got a job as a messenger boy for a pound a week at Waldens Ford Dealer in Dublin.

Through hard work and unrelenting determination, Bill was appointed director general of the company, in 1965. Bill went on to set up the Fairlane Motor Company, which became the biggest Ford dealership in Ireland. In 1986 he took over the troubled Renault car distribution franchise from Waterford Crystal. His turnaround of that company into what is now the Glencullen Group is a business success story—the group now has an annual turnover of $250 million.

Bill Cullen's story is an account of incredible poverty and deprivation in the Dublin slums. It highlights the frustration of a father and mother feeling their relationship crumble as they fight to give their children a better life. It's a story of courage, joy, and happiness—of how a mother gave inspiration and values to her children, saying to them, "The best thing I can give you is the independence to stand on your own feet."

It's a Long Way from Penny Apples is nothing less than a modern-day Horatio Alger story, told with humor and love, a heartwarming tale of redemption and overcoming adversity by one of the most famous self-made men in Ireland.


Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1THE GERMANS BOMB DUBLINBilly Cullen was heading back to bed when he heard it. A faint drone, but slowly getting louder. A bloody air plane. He took the clock from the shelf to the window and saw that it was twenty-five past one in the morning. Listening carefully, he guessed the plane was down in the south docks area, around Ringsend. Heading up the River Liffey. As the drone faded to the west, he sat on the chair and realized that it must have been the plane's second time to go over, as he had wakened about ten minutes before. Pulling on his trousers,
Read the full excerpt


  • Bill Cullen

  • Bill Cullen is a director of the Irish Youth Foundation and in 1998 was a recipient of the Lord Mayor's Award for his work with disadvantaged young people of Dublin.