Leap Castle stands like a proud, stony gentleman in County Offaly, surrounded by an air of mystery and intrigue. Its imposing structure has been the source of many tales and lore, and it is listed as the world’s most haunted castle on its website. Leap Castle carries with it a history of 700 years. Ever since the 13th century, Leap Castle has been a witness to a tumultuous history and its walls have heard many stories over the years.
Standing tall through war, bloody histories, love affairs, lives lost and lives born, the castle is now famous for its ghostly hallways, and ghoulish facade. In this article we will provide you with the ultimate guide to visiting Leap Castle and also dig into its history and of course ghostly sightings.
The Haunting of Leap Castle
Ultimate Guide to Visiting Leap Castle
History of Leap Castle – Ultimate Guide to Visiting Leap Castle
The tower of Leap Castle has always been a source of disagreement, some claim that it was erected in the year 1250, however most believe that it was constructed in the 1500s. Nevertheless, even though there is no single answer as to when the tower was constructed, it is well accepted that the fortified tower house came into existence on a much earlier settlement site which dates all the way back to the Iron Age. The best-known history of the castle begins in the 16th century during which many believe that it was built by the O’Bannon clan. At that time the castle was widely known as Leim Ui Bhanain or Leap of the O’Bannons.
The name came from a legend that stated that there were two O’Bannon brothers who were competing to lead the clan. But they were at a bit of an impasse as the decision could not be who would be the leader. So, the two came to an agreement, that they would jump off the rocks where the castle was going to be constructed, and the one who survived would become the leader of the clan. And so, the brave survivor went on to become the chief of the clan. However, like all other stories, this one also has a powerful and evil entirety, the O’Carroll clan. The O’Bannon was a clan of power however they were known as secondary chieftains.
The true power actually belonged to the terrifying clan known as O’Carroll. Soon, the powerful clan of O-Carroll took control of the Leap Castle and used it to stage massacres of those who rivaled them and even to kill each other. For years, the castle passed between the heirs of the O’Carroll clan as they continued to murder their guests and soldiers and, in the end, met their demise at the hands of power-thirsty kinsmen. It is said that to this very day, the ghosts of the victims still wander the hallways of the castle.
In the year 1649, the ownership of Leap Castle was given to Jonathan Darby, one of Cromwell’s soldiers, as payment for his services in the ongoing battles in Ireland. According to some sources however, it is said that Darby married one of O’Carroll’s daughters, and that he how he got the castle. Nevertheless, the Darby family held ownership of the castle and lived in it for several generations. In the year 1922, during the Irish Civil War, the castle was set on fire and destroyed. Afterwards, the ghoulish establishment remained without an owner, until the year 17974, when the castle was bought by Peter Bartlett.
Peter Bartlett was an Australian descendant of the O’Bannon clan. He began to restore the castle to its former glory until he breathed his last in the year 1980. After his death the castle was purchased by Sean and Anne Ryan and to this very day remain privately owned, as the Ryans continue to work on restoring Leap Castle.
Getting to Leap Castle – Ultimate Guide to Visiting Leap Castle
The castle can be found residing just off Coolderry in County Offaly, Ireland. As the castle is a private home, you cannot visit all of the structure, however, sometimes the Ryans do grant permission to the guests to explore the upper floors that to this very day remain in a state of ruin.
Musician Sean Ryan and his wife, Anne not only live in the castle but are also trying to repair and restore it. Sean claims that he and his wife have seen some ghostly figures around the premises and that they are very real. He is a generous man who is usually happy to share his knowledge of history and also open the grounds of the castle for self-guided tours.
If you wish to pay a visit to the castle, it is better to first get in touch with Sean directly through email and confirm availability plus the best time to visit. Also, keep in mind that a 6-euro donation is requested of the guests in order to support the upkeep of the castle. Make sure to be respectful when visiting the castle and adhere to the rules and regulations as you are visiting someone’s home and not a mere attraction.
Address – R421, Leap, Roscrea, Co. Offaly, Ireland
Phone – +353 86 869 0547
Email – seanfryan at outlook.com
What to See When Visiting the Castle? – Ultimate Guide to Visiting Leap Castle
When visiting the castle, you will be taken to various infamous areas by Sean. The most interesting attraction however at the castle are the famous ghosts that have made it the most haunted castle in all of Ireland. Many ghosts that wander its halls are the courtesy of the bloody thirsty O’Carroll clan. For the ultimate taste of the castle, you will be taken to the Bloody Chapel, where the one-eyed Teige O’Carroll attached and murdered his flesh and blood, his brother as he was leading a family mass. You will also get to see a horrifying dungeon that was discovered when repair work was underway.
When the castle was destroyed in the year 1922, it went through extensive repairs and restoration, during one of these repairs a hidden dungeon filled with corpses was uncovered. Many believed that the victims were tossed into the dungeon through a hidden trapdoor. The total number of bodies was never determined however it took a total of three crates to take away the human bones found in the dungeon.
Those who have an affinity for the supernatural and the eerie should keep an eye out for the ghostly beings that haunt the grounds of the castle including the ones, the owner, Sean Tyan has claimed to have met one on one. Just a heads up, keep an eye out for the lady in red who carries a dagger in hand as she roams the castle and two little girls who have been residents of the castle since the 1600s.
The Haunters of Leap Castle – Ultimate Guide to Visiting Leap Castle
The Bloody Chapel
The now burnt-out shell of the Bloody Chapel resides on the grounds of the castle and is one of the most haunted areas in the estate. Legend has it that on the premises of the chapel, an awful murder took place. According to the lore, in order to gain power, one of the O’Carroll sons murdered his brother, a priest, in cold blood as he was performing mass in the chapel. It is said that the unfortunate priest began the mass before his brother arrived.
The brother seeing it as a sign of great disrespect, stained his hands with the blood of his own brother. Today many have claimed to have seen light streaming from the chapel’s barren windows at night. Some even claimed to have smelled burning rubber, while some stated that they had seen the spirit of the murdered priest lurking in the stairwell of the chapel.
The Lady in Red
One story that makes the hair at the back of your neck stand is that of the lady in red. Legend has it that the lats in red were captured by a member of the O’Carroll clan and were held prisoner at the castle. During captivity, the woman was assaulted by a number of the O’Carrolls and ended up bearing the child of one of them.
When she gave birth, the O’Carrolls were so displeased that they had another mouth to feed. Therefore, one member of the clan took out a dagger and murdered the child. Distraught by the death of her child, the woman grabbed the same dagger and ended her life. Now the woman also known as the Lady in Red wanders the hallways, clad in red, carrying a dagger in hand. Many have claimed to have seen the tall, lanky woman wandering the hallways at night.
In one corner of the Bloody Chapel is a small chamber known as the oubliette. The original purpose of this camber was to store valuables. It can also be used as a hiding place during the event of a siege. However, this particular oubliette has a very sinister use. The bloodthirsty O’Carrolls modified the small chamber, making it into a dungeon where they would throw prisoners. However, it wasn’t just a mere small space for throwing prisoners, it was a death sentence.
In French, oubliette means to forget. Once the clan threw someone into the oubliette they were forgotten about, left to rot. This chamber wasn’t discovered till the early 1900s when the castle was going through a renovation phase. Those who were tending to the castle discovered this chamber and said that it was filled to the brim with hundreds of human skeletons.
Emily and Charlotte
Emily and Charlotte have been the residents of Leap Castle since the 1600s. These two child ghosts can be seen playing in the Main Hall of the castle. It is believed that Emily O’Carroll met her demise after she shell from the castle’s battlement. However, what happened to Charlotte still remains a mystery, but many have seen her ghost dragging a deformed leg behind her as she plays.
The Governess and the Old Man
The ghost of the governess is seen less frequently, and it is believed that she was the governess of Emily and Charlotte. The ghost looks like a nanny and appears alongside the ghosts of the two playing girls. Another, rarely sighted ghost is that of the old man. Some have claimed to have seen an old man lounging on the armchair next to the fire in the main hall of the castle. However, no one knows whose ghost that is or for how long has the ghost been wandering the hallways of the haunted castle.
This ghost is a lot more sinister than the O’Carrolls and it is believed that its existence goes further back than even the walls of the castle. Some say that the Elemental dates back to the time of the Druids. During the time of the Druids, people used sorcery to protect the sacred land on which Leap Castle was later built. It is believed that the Elemental might have been unleashed due to such sorcery. However, this spirit is an extremely sinister one and must be avoided at all costs.
Hotels Near Leap Castle – Ultimate Guide to Visiting Leap Castle
Midlands Park Hotel
Located At – Portlaoise, Ireland, about 21.1 miles away from Leap Castle.
Starting Price – $234
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Midlands Park Hotel is designed in a way that reflects style and elegance and its aspects are elements are planned in such a way as to deliver excellent service. The hotel, through its impeccable service and utter comfort, has earned the reputation of being the most sought-after hotel in all of Ireland. The hotel can be found tucked in the heart of Portlaoise Town.
Guests are welcomed to the hotel by a striking entrance that evokes a sense of modern elegance and classic space. Housed on the premises are 115 deluxe bedrooms, that consist of executive rooms and suites, the rooms are decked in a classic design that exudes modern elegance. Housed by the stunning rooms are top-notch amenities that will make your stay all the more worthwhile.
Tullamore Court Hotel
Located At – Tullamore, Ireland, 21.3 miles away from Leap Castle
Starting Price – $156
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This four-star hotel can be found residing in Tullamore, Co. Offaly Ireland, about a 90 minutes drive away from Dublin. Housed on the premises are 104 guest rooms that include 33 executive rooms and suites, all of which come with complimentary WIFI. The hotel also harbors a ton of facilities to spoil its guests like a lounge bar, restaurant, and leisure center that consists of a sauna steam room, 20 meter swimming pool, full fitness suite as well as a Jacuzzi.
Located At – Nenagh, Ireland, about 19.5 miles away from Leap Castle
Starting Price – $145
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This independent Irish-owned hotel can be found tucked in its own mature gardens on a glorious state that stretches to about 5 acres. Laying 90 minutes away from Dublin and 30 minutes away from Limerick, this three-star hotel is known how to soil its guests. Featuring stunningly spacious rooms that come with free WIFI, the hotel is regarded as a sanctuary lying in the famous Nenagh region that is lauded for its woolen mill, arts center, heritage center, local crafts and fresh produce markets, award-winning eateries as well as stunning boutique shops.
Kinnitty Castle Hotel
Located At – Kinnitty, Ireland, about 6.9 miles away from Leap Castle
Starting Price – $209
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Lying close to the glorious village of Kinnitty, Kinnitty Castle is a stunning establishment that is set against the backdrop of the stunning Slieve Bloom Mountains. Dating back to the year 1209, the castle has a long and turbulent history that gives it timeless charm and character. Located only 90 minutes away from Dublin, Kinnitty Castle is a great accommodation for those wishing to tour Leap Castle. Featuring stunning rooms, and amenities like complimentary toiletries, free WIFI, room service, housekeeping, and much more, Kinnitty Castle is a haven for the lover of food and the great outdoors.
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