Ramsay wowed Irish race-goers at this year's Punchestown
Festival when he performed his world-famous aerial
act from a 25 metre crane. A veteran of the insane
to the just plain bizarre, he also enjoys knife
throwing, trapeze, bungee and the wonderfully
named 'Wheel of Death'. In between performances
I managed to talk to Willie about his high flying
career, and his bird's eye view on life.
In a Scottish brogue softened by many years away
from home, Willie tells me of a life filled with
people telling him 'he couldn't.' Having had a
kidney removed at the age of 8, he was told he
would never lead a normal life. In one respect
they were right. His life is certainly far from
normal. He joined the famous Gerry Cottle circus
at 16, and never looked back. Or down. He worked
with the infamous Circus of Horrors for over a
decade. Think Buffy the Vampire slayer meets zombie
chainsaw jugglers and you're on the right track.
He has travelled all over the world, performing
and teaching. He was head coach at the millennium
dome for a year, and left to train Angelina Jolie
to perform the bungee in Lara Croft: Tomb raider.
He has taken the Wheel of Death all over the world.
This wonderfully named machine is akin to two
large metal hamster wheels rotating around a fixed
point. He and his partner then perform tricks
inside and outside the cages as they rotate. With
no safeties, it's one of the most dangerous acts
you'll ever see with only a handful of people
around the world with the skill to perform it.
Last month he was being thrown around on the Ant
and Dec show (not for the first time) and has
stunted many a time on TV and film.
Having spent a time coaching in Australia, Willie
is now back in colder climes to perform and tour.
He has been entertaining clubbers at Ireland's
hottest new club, Time in county Kildare. Over
four stories high and with nine different bar
areas looking down over a central atrium, Time
Venue is a new era in Irish clubbing, made all
the more extreme by Willie's death defying entertainment.
Aided and abetted by the Circus of Horrors crew
he gave us his slightly twisted Psycho cloud swing,
the exorcist show with Polly on straps, and for
Time's first birthday, Willie and Geoff returned
with the Wheel of Death, bringing two and a half
thousand VIP guests to a standstill, before sending
In the air he commands attention, body shaped
from years of performance, face stern as the crowd
watch him in his priests costume, ready to launch
into his 'Exorcist' routine. When asked what the
most difficult part of this act is, his answer
isn't a breakdown of the perfectly timed head-first
dive towards the crowd, but "Trying not to
smile at people."
On the ground he's quiet and unassuming, calm
and polite. After 20 years of performing has a
few aches and pains but deals with them stoically,
as part of the job. In July he travels to Japan
to perform again at the Fuji Rock festival. For
now he's sitting in a field in Kildare waiting
to dangle from a crane.
What makes someone want to do this for a living?
Willie is matter of fact about it. It's a job
at the end of the day. It can be difficult, dangerous
and unrewarding. Today it's wet and cold and windy.
His shoulder is a bit achy and the radio isn't
working as well as it might. But if he had to
choose between this and any other job, he wouldn't
change it for the world, because he knows that
despite everyone telling him he couldn't, he bloody
well can, and that's the greatest feeling in the