Granard men’s ‘Wall of Death’ featured in national exhibition

Connie Kiernan and Michael Donoghue. Photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne
The ‘Wall of Death’ inspired by two Granard brothers-in-law - Connie Kiernan and Michael Donoghue - back in the 1980s was exhibited in Dublin last week.

The ‘Wall of Death’ inspired by two Granard brothers-in-law - Connie Kiernan and Michael Donoghue - back in the 1980s was exhibited in Dublin last week.

The wall, which is part of the ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ exhibition at the Rua Red Gallery in Tallaght, is courtesy of the original stunt riders on the 1986 Irish film ‘Eat the Peach’ that featured a range of gravity-defying stunts.

However, from its humble beginnings in a backyard in Granard in the late 1970s, the Wall of Death has inspired movies, writers, stunt men and now artists, and continues to bring both Connie and Michael on a nostalgic, albeit, occasional, look back at their famous endeavour.

“People thought we were crazy,” said Connie, recalling the months and years it took to build the wall.

“We were young fellas at the time; I loved bikes and we thought building this wall would be a great idea.”

Indeed, it was Connie’s idea to do it; he had seen a film back in the early 1970s with Elvis Presley featuring walls of death and thought to himself, ‘I’d like to do that’.

While it took a few years more before the project would come to life in Granard , when the Wall of Death finally came to fruition, it would be certain to cause a stir.

Both men began to build it in 1977.

“Pat Kenny and his producer, Peter Ormrod, came down and did an interview with us,” said Connie.

“Peter Ormond thought it would be a good idea to make a film about it; then Eat the Peach was made, and now we have this exhibition.

“We never for one moment ever thought that our wall would garner such interest.”

Eat the Peach, directed by Peter Ormond, and co-written by him and John Kelleher, became a renowned film at the time and the Granard ‘Wall of Death’ became famous throughout the land.

Meanwhile, the exhibition at the Rua Red Gallery in Dublin includes death-defying stunts, a 1970s dream coming true, a young Pat Kenny, a vanished film director, and Elvis Presley!

Sadly, the original wall of death is long gone but perhaps it could be time for a revival of this famous Granard institution?