Portmagee Whiskey Visitor Centre

Museums & Heritage

We were excited to be announced as the design partners for the Portmagee Whiskey Experience and Seine Boat Visitor Centre in Ireland, creating a new experience that would celebrate the intriguing and exciting history of the region’s connections to fishing, smuggling and the legendary Captain Magee – all historical ingredients that have inspired the whiskey they distill today.

Narrative development

Narrative was a core part of the overall experience too. We wanted to make sure we did justice to the regional tales and stories, and so designed a flow that would take guests through time, so that when they entered the video projection dome, they were already engaged and intrigued as to what they would find next.

We started out the project by mapping out the guest flow of the geodesic domes, highlighting the three key areas of the experience. The ‘history dome’ which would tell the story of the town of Portmagee, the ‘video projection dome’, which would house an immersive 360-degree experience, and finally ‘Smuggler’s Walk’, a winding path of storytelling that leads guests to the final stage of the experience.

We also worked on a bespoke poem ‘Spirit of the Seas’ to capture the essence of the village and visitor experience, for use throughout the guest experience.


Once the guest flow was mapped out, we were able to create concept sketch visuals that would reflect the look and feel of the key experience areas. We highlighted the key theming elements, the interpretation boards and interactive elements that would make up the experience. By sketching these concepts to a detailed level, we had a basis for the schematic design. 

Schematic drawings were created for each bespoke structure that would become part of the experience; interpretation boards, the viewer, and the most complex item of them all, a series of triangular shaped graphics that would sit within the structure of the history dome. Each triangular space within the geodesic structure of the dome was a different size, so each design had to be considered, and the print set up exactly to ensure that the design flowed cleanly over the different panels.


We worked alongside our Ireland based contractor to design and produce a rustic backdrop that would be juxtaposed against the modern geodesic dome. This rustic theming included oak furniture, suspended rope walls and barrel seating. We designed interpretation boards that were sympathetic to the Portmagee Whiskey brand style, and included bespoke illustrations and local photographs and imagery to help tell the stories. This dome provided the perfect introduction to the Portmagee story, whilst building anticipation for the main 360 video projection experience.


The 360 video projection dome has provided a totally immersive experience. Guests are invited to sit within a real Seine boat, and are taken on a journey through the bumpy waves and heart-thumping fables of Portmagee’s past. Weather conditions interchange, famous coastal landmarks are sailed past, while the ‘Spirit of Portmagee’ poem roars with drama.

This 3D photorealistic environment, built in Unreal Engine, coincides with 360-degree audio, salt spray and gusts of wind to enrich the sensory experience of guests and provide a realistic scenario as to life on the waves of the Atlantic Sea. The 360 video projection dome is the real ‘wow’ moment for guests and completely authentic to the area.



The Smuggler’s Walk provides a walk through time, as guests are invited to learn about all the smuggling exploits and adventures that took place on the Portmagee coastline. Rugged, wooden information boards lead the way down the path, while interactive caches invite guests to open and explore barrels and crates that would be the perfect, hidden storage containers for smugglers’ booty. 

As part of the outdoor area for the whiskey tasting experience, a viewing board was also created to visually show how the Portmagee locals would have been involved in the fishing industry at one time. Etched glass with illustrated figures and Seine boats help to tell this story, along with a supporting interpretation board.V


From initial concept, to detailed design, through to contractor comms and production, executive production has been imperative to the success of the Portmagee project. Consistency of communication, and working closely with both the client and chosen contractors throughout has been key to the delivery of an amazing guest experience that is unique to the Skellig coast, and the town of Portmagee in particular.

It’s been an absolute pleasure working on the Portmagee Whiskey Experience project. It’s been a joy to bring to life the intriguing and exciting stories of Portmagee and explore how it’s past has influenced the way the Portmagee team produces their whiskey today.

Rhianna McGonigal

Project Producer, Katapult

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