Vis­i­tors can walk through ‘Gates of Hell’ with new gaol ex­pe­ri­ence

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - NEWS - By MYLES BUCHANAN

WICK­LOW Historic Gaol has added another string to its bow with the launch of a new vir­tual real­ity ex­pe­ri­ence this week.

The ‘Gates of Hell’ Vis­i­tor Ex­pe­ri­ence, which fol­lows a €200,000 in­vest­ment by Fáilte Ire­land, was of­fi­cially launched on Thurs­day by Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Hor­ti­cul­ture An­drew Doyle.

Wick­low En­ter­prise Park (WEP), which op­er­ates the gaol, ex­pects the new ex­pe­ri­ence to drive even more vis­i­tors and rev­enue into County Wick­low.

The ex­pe­ri­ence will trans­port vis­i­tors back in time on a 3-D jour­ney through 200 years of life in the gaol. It will cover ma­jor events in Irish his­tory like the 1798 Re­bel­lion, the famine era and the War of In­de­pen­dence through the eyes of gaol in­mates. Para­nor­mal ac­tiv­ity, which has re­sulted in the gaol be­ing la­belled ‘Ire­land’s most haunt­ing building’, is also in­cluded as part of the 3-D jour­ney.

Emag­ine in Water­ford is the vir­tual real­ity spe­cial­ist that de­vel­oped the new ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘It’s like be­ing an ac­tive wit­ness,’ said 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 1700s. 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. .’

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

Minister of State Doyle said: ‘In­vest­ment in the de­vel­op­ment of tourism is vi­tal for sus­tain­ing Ire­land’s rep­u­ta­tion as a world-class tourist des­ti­na­tion.

‘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,’ he said.

Jenny De Saulles, Head of Ire­land’s An­cient East at Fáilte Ire­land, said the vir­tual real­ity ex­pe­ri­ence helps meet the ever-in­creas­ing ex­pec­ta­tions of do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional tourists.

‘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.’

Frank Cur­ran, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive of Wick­low County Coun­cil, said the lo­cal au­thor­ity was ‘de­lighted’ to sup­port 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,’ he said.

Minister of State An­drew Doyle and Frank Cur­ran, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive of Wick­low County Coun­cil, pre­pare to try out the ‘Gates of Hell’ ex­pe­ri­ence at Wick­low Gaol.

Mike Man and Eil­ish Raf­ferty.

Sam Zeyd and Ly­dia Aranda.

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