Bill Cullen

This week, Sue Lawley's castaway is the Irish businessman and writer Bill Cullen. He was one of 14 children born to William Cullen and Mary Darcy. His childhood, in the tenement slums of inner-city Dublin was one of extreme poverty. Born during the war, the family lived in a one-room dilapidated tenement. Learning the secrets of street trading from his mother and grandmother, Bill started selling from market stalls from the age of five. He sold everything from fruit to evening papers home-fashioned Judy Garland dolls to paper flowers.

He eventually started working in a car dealership and went on to own Renault Ireland. He is now a millionaire many times over. He puts his success down to sheer hard work and the support and determination of a close knit family. He has written about his life and says his autobiography, It's A Long Way From Penny Apples, is a tribute to the strong women of Ireland - like his own mother - who held families together through thick and thin. Royalties from the book have been given to the charity of which he is a director, The Irish Youth Foundation. In the past 17 years he has raised £20 million through his charitable work. He is now working on his second book Streetwise, which will impart the business knowledge he has gained over the years.

[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

Favourite track: New York, New York by Frank Sinatra
Book: Glimpses by Brendan Kennelly
Luxury: An accordion

Release date:

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Fri 24 Oct 2003 09:00


Role Contributor
PresenterSue Lawley
Interviewed GuestBill Cullen

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