Tis better to be born lucky than rich....
There are many ways to confront tragedy and hard times. Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt's tragic--and 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 Irishmen in its thrall.
Poverty and its ills can rend a family apart and ruin countless lives, leaving individuals on their own to find their way, if they can, out of that despair and on to a new life. But not every family gives in to defeat. Sometimes the choice is to not leave anyone behind... and out of that love, a family can come together, using all their talents to bring all of their loved ones to a better place.
Bill Cullen was lucky enough to have one such family. Born and bred in the rough inner city slums of Summerhill in Dublin, Bill was one of fourteen children. Selling on the streets from the age of six, be it fruit, flowers, newspapers, Christmas decorations, football 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 fulltime. 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 Firlane 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
- Tom Doherty Associates, February 2004
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