Leap Castle is situated in Coolderry, County Offaly and has the distinction of being known throughout the world as Ireland’s most haunted location. Seasoned paranormal investigator, photographer, writer and history buff NATALIE FOWLER PHELAN tells visitors what they can expect when they step through the doors of Ireland’s infamous haunted hotspot…
I don’t know what intrigues me more about having my first visit at Leap Castle, meeting Sean Ryan or the ghosts. I’ve seen many interviews and YouTube videos on Leap and Sean, the owner is such a character.
Not only is he a fantastic story teller but also an amazing Irish master fiddler and tin whistle player so if he’s not serenading you with a mystical tune, he is telling tales of long ago that will have you truly captured in time long forgotten.
Leap Castle, with its bloody gorish stories has had the public intrigued for many years. Television’s ‘Most Haunted’ team from the U.K. and ‘Ghost Adventures’ and ‘Ghosthunters’ from the U.S. have held investigations in the Castle.
Founded roughly around 1250, Leap Castle (pronounced “Lep”) was built by the O’Bannon Clan. The O’Bannons were secondary chieftains and were subject to the ruling O’Carroll Clan. The O’Carrolls gained control of the castle.
Rivalry was rife within the O’Carroll family, brother against brother. It is said that one brother murdered the other who was a priest whilst in the chapel where he was conducting a mass. One lunged towards the other stabbing him to death hence the name ‘The Bloody Chapel’.
The three promises
Sean invited two Druids into the Castle to see what they could pick up on. Druid, Melvyn Ryan and Druid Eileen Lawrence spent some time at the castle and they both said that they could get the smell of decaying flesh. Could this have been the elemental making itself known? The Druids constantly “burp”, this is their way of not getting possessed by any unwanted entities whilst conducting their investigation. The Druids concluded that only a Shaman can heal the tormented spirits of Leap Castle.
Joseph Mullally, a Celtic Shaman was then asked to conduct a walk through Leap Castle. Joseph said when something very dramatic, emotional and horrific happens within an area where there is a strong earth energy, the imprint of the trauma is held within. Joseph then told Sean that he had made contact with the spirits of Leap and they have asked for three wishes. One is that there should never be any shutters put on the windows of the chapel. Two, that a certain door within the castle should never be locked and finally the third wish is that a certain room in the castle should never be panelled up. Sean said that himself and his family have kept their promise.
Ghosts and entities of Leap Castle
Emily and Charlotte
Two young girls have also been seen at Leap. They have been spotted playing along the stairwell and in the main hall. They lived here in the 1600s. Emily tragically died aged eleven from the castle’s south-eastern battlements. People have reported seeing a young girl fall from the castle roof and disappear before she hits the ground. Charlotte has been seen with a deformed leg which she drags behind her. Former owner Mildred Darby had also reported a sighting of a young girl with fair hair standing by the fireplace in her bedroom.
This vile elemental known as “It” seems to be born out of the long turbulent bloody history of Leap Castle. Just before “It” makes itself known there is a sickly sweet smell. Former owner Mildred Darby said “I was standing in the gallery, looking down to the main hall, when I felt somebody put a hand on my shoulder. The thing was about the size of a sheep, thin gaunt and shadowy in parts, its face was human, or to be more accurate in its vileness, lust in its eyes which seemed half decomposed in their cavities stared into mine and the horrible smell which had before offended my nostrils only a hundred times more intensified came up into my face filling me with a deadly nausea it was the smell of a decomposing corpse”.
The Red Lady
This poor unfortunate soul has been seen holding a dagger. She was captured by one of the O’Carrolls and raped. She fell pregnant and when the child was born it was taken from her and stabbed with a dagger. She was so distraught she killed herself with the same dagger used to murder her infant. The dagger her spirit holds is said to be the dagger that was used to stab her newborn.
This was the dungeon used to murder many. It had only one way in with no doors just an opening in the ceiling. The unfortunates were thrown down here, usually landing on a spike and if that didn’t kill them they were left to die in a slow agonising death from their injuries and starvation. When the castle was having renovation work carried out they found 150 human remains. It took three cart loads to remove the remains. Oubliette, a French word meaning a secret dungeon with access only through a trapdoor in its ceiling.
Sean and his wife Anne Ryan bought the castle in 1991, and have been restoring the castle to its former glory. Sean said that he had a few encounters when he was renovating the castle. He felt as though someone or something wasn’t happy with him restoring the building. He broke his kneecap when he was carrying out renovations, he said that the ladder was pushed and he had to jump from the ladder, he incurred an injury which led to his kneecap having to be removed and replaced and then had a further injury where he broke his ankle. He hasn’t had any more injuries to date.
Leap Castle remains an enigma to even the most experienced ghosthunter and it continues to be the number one haunted location to visit. I for one will be investigating supernatural events at Leap Castle very soon indeed!
You can follow Natalie at ‘She Who Seeks’ here on Facebook.