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Dublin: 3 °C Friday 24 November, 2017

Virtual Reality Tour: Explore the isolated Wicklow lighthouse that you can sleep inside

KBC and TheJournal.ie are helping you explore an iconic Irish landmark every month. Experience Your World.

Tap to start your tour of the lighthouse above. Look around in 360 degrees, and walk by tapping the circles. The blue dots will tell you more, while the red dots are video. If you get tired of the stairs, you can switch between floors using the drop-down.

Source: Shutterstock/ariy

THE WICKLOW HEAD Lighthouse is perched on the edge of the headland just south of Wicklow town, looking out over the ocean.

It was built in 1781, an essential landmark for mariners finding their way through the night waters of the Irish Sea between Hook Head and Howth Head. Long before the arrival of electric light, 20 candles on top of the tower were kept burning by a lighthouse keeper.

Today, you can stay the night in the lighthouse. It was converted into innovative sleeping quarters – six floors high, with one room on each floor – by the Irish Landmark Trust in 1997.

A 360° view of the lighthouse's living room

But it’s hard to get a booking. “Since the day we opened the doors, it’s never empty,” says Miriam Conway, who looks after the lighthouse today. “You have the sheep on one side and the sea on three sides. You’re cut off from the outside world.”

The lighthouse’s lantern stopped burning in 1836, when it was struck by lightning. Fire destroyed the whole interior.

It stayed empty for the next 160 years. “It was a big black hole,” Miriam says. “You’d nearly be afraid to walk in because it was full of flies. There were no rooms, no stairs, there was nothing.”

A taste of the VR experience. Take the full tour above.

When the Irish Landmark Trust took it over, it was rebuilt from the shell inwards. It’s now one of their most popular properties – despite the 109 stairs that guests have to climb to reach the kitchen on the top floor.

(Conway says the stairs have never been a problem. “I had a lady in her 90s, and she visited three times, for three birthdays,” she says.)

A 360° view of one of the lighthouse bedrooms

It’s clear that the lighthouse has a powerful appeal. Many visitors come back time and time again, and even keep in touch with Conway. During ex-hurricane Ophelia, they checked in from all over the world to make sure she and the lighthouse were OK.

“I had messages from people in America, in Europe. It was really lovely.”

Did you climb up all 109 steps? Find the drone footage? Look out the windows?

KBC’s Experience Your World is a technology project that allows people to experience spaces around them in virtual reality – from properties on Daft.ie, to iconic landmarks like Windmill Lane and city neighbourhoods on TheJournal.ie. As a digital-led bank, KBC also offers 24/7 anytime chat on the phone, webchat and social media, account opening in minutes on your mobile and a Mobile Mortgage team who can come to your house.

If you’re thinking of buying a home, sign up for our Home Experience Event tonight at CHQ Dublin where journalist Andy O’Donoghue will discuss how technology including VR is changing the game.

The maximum mortgage is 90% of the property value. Lending criteria, underwriting, terms and conditions apply. Security and insurance are required. KBC Bank Ireland plc is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

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