You may of figured it out by now that I have got quite a thing for Irish Castles and the more haunted that they are said to be the better. Leap Castle has been on my “todo ” list now for quite some time so I am hoping that I will get the chance to visit this place quite soon.The photos that I have shown are not mine,however when I get a chance to visit Leap Castle I can then update this blog with my own photos.
Leap Castle (pronounced “Lep”) is located in Co Offaly, Ireland about four miles north of the town of Roscrea. County Offaly is blessed with haunted Castles,you may of seen my blog on Charleville Forest Castle which is also located in Co Offaly. Like Charleville Castle,Leap Castle holds the name of one of Ireland’s most haunted Castles.It is thought that the Castle was built in the early 1500′s by the O’Bannon clan.The O’Bannon clan were the secondary chieftains under the ruling of the 0`Carroll clan. It is said that current building was built over another Castle and before that,the Druids are said to of used the site for initiation ceremonies.The castle has been home to much bloodshed and violence over the centuries.
Legend has it that two O’Bannon brothers were contesting the chieftainship of their clan. The only way to settle this argument was a display of strength and bravery. They were to both jump off the rocky outcrop where the castle was to be built. The survivor won the honour and right to be Chieftain.Thus the castle was built, fueled by blood and death. Leap Castle was used as a principle stronghold of the O’Carroll clan. It was used to guard the pass through the Slieve Bloom Mountains and has been said that no castle was more well fortified than Leap.
The O’Carrolls were said to be fierce and brutal people, hell bent on domination. They were widely known for their ruthless ways, killing others and each other on their path to domination. The ruthless O`Carrolls called Leap their home until 1642, when the Castle was taking from them by by an English soldier of the Cromwellian forces that man was John Darby. The Darbys inhabited Leap Castle from 1642 until it’s burning in 1922. Unfortunately the Castle was the target for an uprising and was looted and burnt to an empty shell in 1922. Here it lay dormant until it was purchased in 1974 by an Australian, Peter Bartlett. This saw the awaking of the ancient building. The work is now being continued by current owners, the Ryan’s.
The Bloody Chapel and the Castles Ghosts
When you hear stories about Leap “The Bloody Castle” is one of the first things to pop up in the conversation. The Bloody Chapel is said to be the home of many a ghoul. People have said on passing the Castle at night they have seen a very bright light shooting out of the upper windows.This occurrence has been reported since the time of the Darbys. However neighbours have called the current owners the Ryan’s to report that the Chapel was in full Illumination. Strange smells of rubber have also been reported during peoples visit to the upper hall.
One of the most well known ghosts is referred to as the O`Carroll priest. After the death of Mulrooney O’Carroll in 1532, a fierce power struggle developed within the remaining O’Carroll family. Brother fought against brother to gain Chieftainship. Legend has it that an O’Carroll murdered his own brother and a priest whilst he was performing a mass in the upper hall of the Castle. It is believed that the priest started the mass before the arrival of his brother and this was considered to be a great insult. O’Carroll then flew into a rage a slaughtered his brother where he stood. The Priest has been seen on many occasions in the Bloody Chapel. This spirit has also been seen lurking around on the stairway below and also leaving the chapel via the western door to the bartizan and down the northern stairs.
One of the more sinister features of the Bloody Chapel is the oubliette. The oubliette is a small chamber located in the North-Eastern corner of the Bloody Chapel. It is thought that the original use for these chambers was to store valuables. They were also used as a place to hide in the event of a siege. The O’Carrolls used this chamber for a more a deadly purpose. They adapted this chamber to serve as a small dungeon where the poor prisoners were thrown in, dead or dying. The entrance to the chamber is a narrow hole originally fitted with a form of trap door. The name is derived from the French “to forget”.
Once you were unlucky enough to be thrown in the oubliette,you were simply forgotten about “hence the name “Legends tell of several occasions where the O’Carrolls would employ other clans as mercenaries to kill off nearby threats. Upon completion of the job the mercenaries were invited back to Leap Castle for a celebratory feast. Unfortunately for the mercenaries, the feast was poisoned and their throats were cut. The corpses were then thrown into the oubliette. 39 of the O’Neil clan are said to be disposed of in this fashion. In 1599, another deadly deed occurred at Leap Castle. Charles O’Carroll, the last chieftain at Leap, was at war with the Earl of Tyrone and hired the MacMahon clan, from Monaghan as mercenaries. After they had fought for him, the O’Carrolls held a feast for the mercenaries. They were then murdered in their sleep how nice !!!. The MacMahon clan are also said to haunt the great hall at Leap Castle.
During the occupation of Leap Castle by the Darbys, the oubliette was cleaned and the contents removed during some of the renovations carried out. It is said that three cartloads of skeletons were removed from the oubliette during this period. Some believe that since this gruesome discovery, an emotional shockwave was sent through the castle and the many spirits including the Elemental were woken from their dormancy.
Sean Ryan speaks of a man who seems to live in the oubliette. He leaves the Bloody Chapel on occasion and wanders down to the lower levels of the castle.
Legend has it that Leap Castle is also haunted by a supernatural entity known as an Elemental. The alleged entity is known as “It” SPOOKY !!!!
It has been visited by paranormal investigators from ABC Family’s Scariest Places on Earth and Living TV’s Most Haunted in its first season, as well as taps from the Ghost hunters third season.
Here is a YouTube video of the current owner the very talented musician Sean Ryan talking of the Castles Ghosts and there are quite a few.
So there you go another haunted Irish Castle another place I feel that will definitely be worth a wee visit.