The Gates of Hell - Virtual Reality at Wicklow Gaol


What we did

Emagine Transforms Wicklow Gaol with Immersive Virtual Reality Experience

Emagine completed an ambitious yet highly successful project at Wicklow Gaol. Our collaborative effort with Fáilte Ireland and the Wicklow Gaol management team led to the development of a fully immersive VR film and various interpretative elements, enhancing visitor experience at the historic site.

The Concept: Bringing History to Life

In this project, our goal was to transport visitors back in time, enabling them to experience pivotal events in Irish history – the 1798 Rebellion, the famine era, and the War of Independence – as seen through the eyes of Gaol's inmates. This entailed meeting an array of characters, including Mr. Simpson, the jailer, Mary Storey, the Matron, Kay Farrell, the Rebel, and numerous historical paupers and political prisoners.

The VR Film: “The Gates of Hell”

In developing the virtual reality film, "The Gates of Hell", we undertook rigorous historical research to create an engaging narrative spanning three centuries. This immersive experience carries visitors into a gritty three-dimensional world of corruption, rebellion, and hardship, closely linked with Wicklow Gaol's past.

Collaborative Process & Technical Design

At Emagine, we believe in the power of collaboration and attention to detail. For this project, we not only produced the VR film but also provided comprehensive storyboards for the 3D animation and guided the animators in designing each scene. We worked in tandem with fit-out contractors, creating bespoke seating for the VR hardware and theming the cells.

Guided Visitor Experience

Recognising the importance of personal interaction, we created scripts for the tour guides, enabling them to introduce and operate the VR experience in character. To further enrich the experience, Hype Boxes and interactive touchscreens were installed throughout the museum.

Multilingual Experience

To make the immersive experience accessible to a broader audience, we ensured the VR film was available in French and Spanish. This involved professional script translation and direction of voice actors for these languages.

Original Soundscape

Complementing the visual and interactive experience, we commissioned an original score soundscape featuring the well-known Irish band, KILA, adding an aural dimension to the journey through time.

Project Delivery & Success

Despite the complexity and scale of the project, we are proud to have delivered it on budget in just over eight months. This achievement demonstrates Emagine’s commitment to delivering high-quality, innovative, and immersive experiences within defined timelines and budgets.

Our successful transformation of Wicklow Gaol showcases Emagine’s expertise in merging technology with history, offering captivating narratives and experiences for visitors. This is just one example of how Emagine pushes the boundaries of what's possible, bringing historical narratives to life in the most engaging and innovative ways.


Wicklow, Ireland


April 1, 2019


Wicklow Gaol


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