Bill Long (writer)

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Bill Long
Born (1932-04-28)28 April 1932
Waterford, Republic of Ireland
Died 21 May 2010(2010-05-21) (aged 78)
Occupation Writer, broadcaster
Spouse(s) Peg
Children Four

Bill Long (28 April 1932 – 21 May 2010) was an Irish writer and broadcaster. He often featured on RTÉ Radio 1.[1][2] He was also Ireland's longest surviving heart transplant patient.[2]

Early life[edit]

Long was born a Catholic in Waterford in 1932. He lived in a thatched house with his immediate and extended family, including his mother, father, brother and his mother's parents.[2] His father was a grower of vegetables.[2] Long was fond of reading as a child, devouring Henry David Thoreau, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Zane Grey, and encountering trouble at school while reading when he was supposed to be paying close attention to his religious studies.[2] His time at a boarding school was funded by a family friend but he quit after two years.[2] He attended a Congregation of Christian Brothers school in Tramore but quit that as well, at the age of 14.[2] He married a wife, Peg, and they had two sons and two daughters.


After leaving school Long enlisted in the navy. He soon left that as well.[2] He began reporting for the Cork Examiner, before transferring to a newspaper in Waterford and then onward to the Irish Press, followed by the Irish Independent and then The Irish Times and even briefly with Raidió Teilifís Éireann.[2] He also worked in Revlon's public relations department. Long resided in London where Raymond Chandler was a next-door neighbour.[2] The two shared in common a youth spent in Waterford so bonded well.[2] Long also went on trips to the United States and South America.[2] He met figures such as Thomas Merton and Katherine Anne Porter, the latter of whom encouraged him to write in earnest.[2] So he left his job at Revlon.[2] While writing he made radio documentaries to generate funds to feed his family.[2] Among these are Singing Ark (which won a Jacobs Award) and the Dylan Thomas documentary Flowering Flood.[2] He featured on RTÉ Radio 1's Sunday Miscellany.[2] Long was also a homiletics lecturer at National University of Ireland, Maynooth (NUIM).[2]

Bright Light, White Water, published in 1993, documented the history of every Irish lighthouse and their keepers off the Irish coast, with Long living inside Howth's Baily lighthouse while writing.[2] He later had a heart attack and a heart transplant followed in 1994.[2] The transplant and recuperation received public interest – RTÉ filmed a documentary and Long's book, Change of Heart, described what had happened and advocated increased donor awareness.[2] He was able to write and edit further books, completing his memoirs shortly before his death in 2010.[2]


  • Bright Light, White Water (1993)
  • Change of Heart (1994)
  • Brief Encounters: Meetings with Remarkable People (1999)
  • Voices of Connemara (2009), with Raymonde Standun.
  • The Lamp and the Lullaby; tales from a rural childhood (memoir) (2010)


  1. ^ "Christmas Day on RTÉ Radio 1". RTÉ Radio 1. Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 25 December 2009. Retrieved 25 December 2009. SANTA CLAUSE OF LONELINESS: Bill Long spends Christmas in the company of Thomas Merton With Patrick Dawson as Thomas Merton and Joe Taylor as Erskine Caldwell – 1.45pm on RTÉ Radio 1 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v "Author and broadcaster, well known for 'Change of Heart'". The Irish Times. Irish Times Trust. 12 June 2010. Retrieved 12 June 2010. 

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