The Gates of Hell VR Experience

Wicklow Gaol’s management team, in conjunction with Fáilte Ireland, commissioned EPIC to develop a VR film and other forms of interpretation that would update the offering and provide an additional revenue stream by attracting more visitors.




Computer Generated - IDA 20 21 Silver | IDA 2021 Bronze


Dara Lynne and the EPIC team did a fantastic job on developing the characters and stories for The Gates of Hell VR experience... The VR addition has proven a great success, with increased visitor numbers to the site.


Emeir O’Connell, Manager, Wicklow Historic Gaol




The turbulent history of Wicklow Gaol is told in The Gates of Hell, a fully immersive VR experience, which transports visitors to a grim three-dimensional world of corruption, rebellion and hardship.

On appointment, EPIC designed an interpretive plan with VR Experience at its core. The plan presented a visitor-flow solution that would allow the Gaol to accommodate the new VR experience and the large groups of visitors it would attract without interrupting the existing tour route. The solution involved opening up a previously unused part of the building.

The story for the VR movie had to span three centuries; historical research and fact-checking were therefore critical components. In addition to the research carried out by EPIC, a local historian with in-depth knowledge of the site provided detailed information on the building’s history including its former staff and prisoners. EPIC then developed a dramatic script based on real people and events, taking the visitor through three different periods of the Gaol’s history linking the site with key events in Irish history: the 1798 rebellion, the famine years, and the Civil War.

Video Showcase

EPIC worked closely with our VR developer partner to produce the VR movie, providing storyboards for the 3D animation, directing the animators in the design of each scene of the production. Working in close collaboration with the fit-out contractors on the fabrication of all exhibition elements EPIC commissioned bespoke seating to house the VR hardware and dressed the cells in theme. EPIC provided a script for the tour guides who introduce and operate the VR experience in character. Hype Boxes and touchscreens were additionally installed in the museum.

The VR experience had to be available in two foreign languages (French and Spanish). EPIC managed the script translation via a third party. With the support of our audio recording partner, we cast voice actors in the two languages and directed their performances with the help of language monitors where necessary. We commissioned an original score soundscape, featuring well known Irish band, KILA.

The entire project was delivered on budget in just over eight months.



Project Details:

Client: Wicklow Gaol

Date: January to August 2019

Location: Wicklow Town

Collaborated with:
Alphaset, Bitsixteen, Emagine Media

    Services Provided


  • Design of visitor flow and interiors
  • Development of themes and narrative arc
  • Character design / Mood boards
  • Storyboards for AV
  • Script writing
  • Direction of animation
  • Casting and direction of voice actors
  • Liaison with Failte Ireland
  • Project management
  • Branding and Signage


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