Name: Leap Castle
Location: County Offaly.
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Over 400 years ago in what is now known as the “Bloody Chapel” a shocking murder occurred. Leap Castle was then a stronghold of the O'Carroll family, powerful Irish Princes, Chieftains of the area.
In 1532, on the death of the O'Carroll Chieftain, a fierce rivalry for the leadership erupted within the family. The bitter fight for power turned brother against brother. One of the brothers was a priest. The O'Carroll priest was holding mass for a group of his family (in what is now called the “Bloody Chapel”). While chanting the holy rites, his rival brother burst into the chapel plunging his sword into his brother. Fatally wounding him, the butchered priest fell across the altar and died in front of his family.
The heinous act of brother killing brother and the blasphemy of a sacred mass cut short by such an evil event sent an echo of misery ringing throughout the castle.
Another source of evil was found at Leap Castle that may have compounded and nurtured the sprit of the elemental. A hidden ubliet (a dungeon) was found off the bloody chapel. It was a small room with a drop floor. Those who were forgotten within this room suffered unimaginable pain and misery until their death. Prisoners would be pushed into the room to fall through the floor and land on a spike eight feet below. If you were not lucky enough to die quickly on the spike, you died of starvation in an odorless room while the aroma of food and the sounds of merriment drifted up from the rooms below. A narrow window would let you watch those who came and went in freedom from the castle. Around c.1900 workmen who where hired to clean out the ubliet made a hideous discovery, human skeletons laid piled on top of each other. It took three full cart loads to remove all of the bones. Among the bones workmen found a pocket watch made in the 1840's. It is not certain if the dungeon was still in use then.
Because of its extremely bloody history Leap Castle has always had a reputation of being haunted, a reputation so strong local people avoided it at night. Completely gutted by fire, Leap Castle was boarded up and it's gates were pad locked for over 70 years. Locals have described seeing the windows at the top of the castle “light up for a few seconds as if many candles were brought into the room” late at night. The castle laid in ruin for years.
Shortly after Leap's dungeons gruesome discovery, a psychic disturbance may have caused the emergence of the elemental spirit. In 1659 ownership of Leap Castle passed in marriage from the O'Carroll family to an English family, the Darbys. The Darby family turned Leap into their family home, with improvements and additions and landscaped gardens . In the late 19th century descendants Johanthan and Mildred Darby were looking forward to raising their family here. The occult was the fashion of the day, and Mildred Darby did some innocent dabbling, despite the castle's history and reputation for being haunted. Mildred's dabbling with magic awakened the elemental with ferocious velocity.
In 1909, Mildred Darby wrote an article for the Journal Occult Review, describing her terrifying ordeal. “I was standing in the Gallery looking down at the main floor, when I felt somebody put a hand on my shoulder. The thing was about the size of a sheep. Thin guanting shadowy…, it's face was human, to be more accurate inhuman. Its lust in its eyes which seemed half decomposed in black cavities stared into mine. The horrible smell one hundred times intensified came up into my face, giving me a deadly nausea. It was the smell of a decomposing corpse.”
The elemental is thought to be a primitive ghost that attaches itself to a particular place. It is often malevolent, terrifying and unpredictable. After Mrs. Darby's experiments in the black arts, Leap Castle has never been the same. Haunting plague Leap leaving a sinister air throughout the castle. The Darbys remained at Leap until 1922. Being the home of an English family, it became the target of the Irish struggle for independence. Destroyed by bombs, completely looted, nothing but a burned out shell remained. The Darby's were driven out.
In the 1970's Leap Castle was purchased by an Australian, who had a white witch brought in from Mexico to exorcise the castle. She spent many hours in the bloody chapel, when she emerged she explained that the spirits at Leap Castle were no longer malevolent, but they wished to remain.
In the 1990's the castle was sold to the current owners. They were aware of the castle's troubled history. Shortly after moving in they began restoration of the castle. During which time a “freak accident” left the owner with a broken kneecap delaying restoration work on the castle for nearly a year. One year after his “accident” the owner was back at work restoring his castle when the ladder he was standing on suddenly tilted backwards away from the wall causing him to jump several stories resulting in a broken ankle. Both were strange accidents.
The owners say they would be happy to share the castle with the spirits as long as there are no more “occurrences”.
In 1991, in Leap Castle's Bloody Chapel was the christening of the owner's baby daughter. For the first time in centuries the “Bloody Chapel” was filled with music, dancing, laughter, and most of all love. The day had been a “happy, pleasant, wonderful day”. If the troubled spirits of Leap Castle did not leave, maybe they have finally found some peace.
Leap Castle is open year round, there are no accommodations.
The following information was researched by our volunteer team member Carolyn D. Ahrns from Las Vegas, NV.
Thank you very much!
Information obtained from, Castle Ghosts of Ireland, Haunted Britain & Ireland and various other articles.