‘Gates of Hell’ Virtual Reality Experience launches at Wicklow Historic Gaol

A ground-breaking new Virtual Reality Experience has  been launched at Wicklow Historic Gaol by Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture Andrew Doyle T.D. following a €200,000 investment by Fáilte Ireland.

The ‘GATES OF HELL’ Visitor Experience , which opens to the public on the August will transport visitors back in time on a 3-D journey through 200 years of life in Wicklow Historic Gaol. They will get a taste of the 1798 Rebellion, the famine era and the War of Independence through the eyes of Gaol inmates… and meet many an imposing character along the way.

The paranormal realm and its ghostly inhabitants will also open its Virtual Reality doors along the journey, giving a glimpse into the strange activities that have earned the Gaol the title of “Ireland’s Most Haunted Building”.

World-class technology puts the new visitor experience at the forefront of best-in-class Virtual Reality Visitor Attractions on an international level. The ‘Gates of Hell’ will be also be made available in French and Spanish which will increase Wicklow’s attractiveness to key overseas markets.

This is one of 19 new technology-driven visitor experiences to open over the coming year across Ireland’s Ancient East as part of Failte Ireland’s €2.3million Storytelling Interpretation Grants Scheme. This scheme is designed to transform the quality of interpretation, animation and storytelling at existing heritage and visitor attractions throughout Ireland’s Ancient East.

Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, and local TD, Andrew Doyle says Fáilte Ireland are trend-setters in supporting and encouraging the use of modern 3-D technology to enhance fully-immersive visitor experiences.

Tourism now generates €7.6bn in revenue for the Irish economy and supports 260,000 jobs nationwide – making it one of the most important sectors for Ireland. Its importance is even more pronounced when it comes to the creation of jobs in rural communities across Ireland, especially in places where tourism is one of the only industries.

Investment in the development of tourism is vital for sustaining Ireland’s reputation as a world-class tourist destination. I’m delighted to welcome this brilliant new visitor experience to Wicklow, which will build on what is already a great attraction at Wicklow Gaol.  Fáilte Ireland’s work on the ground is helping to step-change visitor experiences across the country which is making Ireland a hugely attractive destination for overseas tourists.

Jenny De Saulles, Head of Ireland’s Ancient East at Fáilte Ireland,said the new Virtual Reality experience is fundamental in meeting the ever-increasing expectations of domestic and international tourists:

“Ireland’s Ancient East has the most extensive range of built heritage in Europe including tombs older than the pyramids, historic castles, ruined abbeys, great fortresses and amazing sites like Wicklow Historic Gaol. When overseas visitors come to Ireland, they not only want to visit these great attractions – they want to hear first-hand the stories about Ireland at that time and the people who lived and worked in the area.

 What is most valuable to visitors from our core overseas markets is the chance to participate, and not simply be bystanders.  At Fáilte Ireland, we are always looking for opportunities to stimulate the development of brilliant visitor experiences, and the Gates of Hell experience is testament to what can be achieved through investment and innovation. This is just one of 19 projects set to open following funding from our Ireland’s Ancient East Storytelling Interpretation grants scheme – each project brings to life local heritage and culture and will transform the tourism appeal of each area.”


The new ‘Gates of Hell’ visitor experience will cost a total of €250,000 including investment from Wicklow County Council.


We’re delighted to partner with Fáilte Ireland and contribute to the funding of the project. The Ireland’s Ancient East brand has been vital in positioning Wicklow as a must-visit destination and Wicklow Historic Gaol is really reaping the benefits of being part of this region.”

Wicklow Enterprise Park (WEP), which operates Wicklow Historic Gaol, expects the world-class new experience to drive even more visitors and revenue into County Wicklow.

Emagine are the Virtual Reality Specialists who developed the new experience.

“It’s like being an active witness”,explains Brian Hickey, the Creative Director at Emagine.

“Imagine if you could leap into a cinema scene.  It’s an experience. We’re going to put users in a very different Wicklow Gaol, as it might have looked in the 1700’s.


“This is one of the most exciting projects we have worked on and we have an entire team of animators and 3-D artists dedicated to bringing the amazing historic world of Wicklow Gaol to life by taking storytelling to a ground-breaking new immersive level. Wicklow Historic Gaol is the jewel in the crown of the Ireland’s Ancient East and soon visitors from across the world will have the wonderful opportunity to leap into some of its fascinating stories.”


The Ireland’s Ancient East Storytelling Interpretation Grants scheme is one of a number of Fáilte Ireland investment programmes to benefit visitor attractions across Ireland.

If you have a story that you think the WicklowNews.Net readers and beyond should know about, we’d love for you to get in touch with us. Submit A Story

Related Stories