Leap Castle is located in County Offaly, Ireland. The ghosts of monks have been seen on the castle grounds, along with various other ghosts and dark shadows that have also been seen in the ruins of the old priest house.
Iit was built in 800 Ad by the O'Bannon family and was originally called "Leim U Bhanain," or "Leap of the O'Bannons." The O'Bannons were the "secondary chieftains" of the territory, and were subject to the ruling O'Carroll clan.
By 1557 the O'Carroll's had taken possession of Leap Castle, the O'Carroll's were a ruthless family by all accounts. Following the death of Mulrooney O'Carroll in 1532, a bitter dispute over succession to lead the clan arose. As siblings battled each other for leadership of the clan, "one-eyed" Teige O'Carroll is said to have slain his own brother, who was also a priest, as he celebrated Mass in "The Bloody Chapel".
Teige O'Carroll to celebrate his succession to head of the family held a lavish banquet at Leap Castle and invited a rural branch of his own clan to partake of his hospitality. As soon as the unfortunate guests sat down to dinner he massacred everyone one of them.
By the 17th century the days of O'Carroll occupancy were drawing to a close, and they were about to lose possession in a suitably blood- thirsty manner. A 17th century daughter of the clan fell in love with an English soldier named Captain Darby, who was being held prisoner in the castle dungeons. She smuggled food to him and eventually organised his escape. As they were making their way down the staircase, her brother suddenly confronted them, the captain silenced him with a single sword thrust. His lover then became the heiress to Leap Castle, it passed into the ownership of the captain's family when the two were later married.
The last of the Darby family to own Leap Castle was Jonathan Charles Darby who left in 1909. Jonathan's wife Mildred wrote an article for the Occult Review describing how she had held several seances at Leap Castle during which she had attracted the unwelcome attentions of an elemental - a primitive and malevolent force that attaches itself to a particular place. Mildred Darby described how she was "standing in the Gallery looking down at the main floor, when I felt somebody put a hand on my shoulder. The thing was the size of a sheep. Thin gaunt and shadowy, its eyes which seemed half decomposed in black cavities stared into mine. The horrible smell gave me a deadly nausea. It was the smell of a decomposing corpse".
Following its destruction by fire in 1922, workmen had commenced gutting the interior. Behind the wall of the chapel they discovered an oubliette, a small dungeon whose name, derived from the French oublier, meaning forget. It was a small room with a drop floor, 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 a door less room while the aroma of food and the sounds of merriment drifted up from the rooms below. Three cartloads of human bones were eventually cleared from this hidden room..
Over the next seventy years, it remained an empty building its fearsome reputation ensuring that the locals shunned it, particularly at night when all manner of ghostly activity was known to stir within its walls. From across the fields people would watch the window of the "Bloody Chapel" suddenly light up, as though hundreds of flickering candles were blazing within. Some, who dared walk amongst the ruins, experienced alarming encounters with a lustrous lady wearing a billowing red gown.
In 1972 the castle was purchased by an Australian of Irish decent who sold it to Sean and Anne Ryan in 1991 and Sean set about converting the ruin into a habitable family home. Shortly afterwards, restoration was suddenly halted when the ladder Sean was working from was inexplicably pushed away from the wall forcing him to jump several stories and sustain a fractured knee. No sooner had he resumed work, than another freak accident caused him to break an ankle.
Sean and Anne Ryan decided that they needed some help and brought in a white witch to exorcise the castle. When she finally emerged she said the spirits were no longer malevolent, but will not leave the castle. Leap Castle is thought to have at least 20 different ghosts and is believed to be the most haunted castle in the World. Leap Castle has recently allowed TV's Ghost Hunters and Most Haunted paranormal teams to investigate the castle, both these investigations provided compelling evidence of significant paranormal activity.
Ciera Ryan the owner's daughter remembers being upstairs in the upper room with her family and looking over at the stairs and seeing a little girl standing on the stairs she looked over to ask her parents who the girl was by the time she looked back the girl was gone.
The ghost of another young girl has also been seen with the girl from the stairs, they are usually seen playing together. The two girls are believed to be from the 1600's. One is thought to have been a young girl who fell from the Castles towers and died.
Some visitors were staying at the Castle one was an American actress, Ciera and the lady went for a walk around the castle's grounds. Suddenly the lady became upset she said she had seen a young girl fall from the castle and vanish just above the ground.
The ghost of the priest is seen in and around the chapel area, his ghost has also been seen by a visitor on the stairs just outside the chapel. The guest was walking up the stairs towards the chapel when he noticed a figure coming down the stairs towards him wearing priest's robes. The figure was in a hurry and the guest did not have time to move aside, before the two made contact the priest suddenly vanished right in front of him.
In the Banqueting Hall many visitors have seen a woman in a red dress on the upper level upon investigation there is no one there. Medium's that have visited the castle have sensed her presence in the banqueting hall and all think that she is a malevolent entity.
The ghost of a lady has been seen and felt in and around the kitchen area, she is often reported as attending the fire. In the same area lots of visitors have had the sensations of being brushing past or being pulled and touched. Her apparition usually appears more often than not when visitors are at the castle, especially blonde ones.
The ghost of an old man has been seen sitting in a chair by the downstairs fireplace, his spirit is believed to be a previous owner of the castle. His appearance is often accompanied by a strong smell of tobacco, and a dog that is usually sat in front the fire.
The owner Sean has reported hearing the sounds of chanting in some of the downstairs rooms. At night he has heard the sound of terrified screams, he believes that they are from the young girl that fell from the battlements. One night all the paintings were taken off the wall in his bedroom whilst he and his wife slept.
The ghosts of monks have been seen on the castle grounds, ghosts and dark shadows have also been seen in the ruins of the old priest house.