Said to be the longest continually inhabited, most haunted castle in Ireland.
Located in Coolderry Co. Offaly the legend of Leap is renowned all over the world, for its lengthy and gruesome history.
October 13th - 12:01
The crisp autumn wind sends a shiver down my spine, as I disembark from the car, after journeying west for almost two hours. On arrival at Leap, I’m greeted by the sinister meows' of several cats patrolling the garden. What a welcome to a castle of such history, for cats are steeped in folklore. Especially as a black cat almost crossed my path as it greeted me at the door. The superstition goes that a black cat crossing one's path is a bad omen. But what was capturing my attention was the ere feeling created by a dozen or so crows fluttering through the empty shell of the castle left wing.
I couldn't help but wish these walls could talk, for they'd tell the story of the brutal and violent O'carroll clan who reigned this land in the 13th century, ruthless stopping at nothing to cling to power.
When I entered through the creaky door, I was greeted by the scent of burning wood from the fireplace. The scent was fitting for in 1922 it was burned to the ground.
Sitting by the fire was Sean Ryan, the castle's current owner, talking to an American Family about the ghosts and growls. As I waited for an opportunity to introduce myself, I wandered around the main hall, looking at the vast collections of artefacts and relics of a time past, listening to Sean talk about the stories of Leap.
The castle has an unexpected plant growing in the conservatory. A grapevine, of an unusual kind, where the grapes resemble berries. In a glass room overlooking the surrounding valley. I can see why this location was chosen for a castle. Quite a strategic setting.
I pondered and took a few snaps, but couldn't help overhear a story of two brothers, thorn between succession and power. Of how a priest (or monk) haunts the Bloody Chapel.
The Bloody Chapel earned such a title, after the death of its priest. His brother burst into the room with his sword to claim the throne after the death of their father and previous king.
I didn't meet any ghosts, many claims to see sightings of the Governess with two girls. or just the two girls roaming the corridors, with one re-enacting her death from the castle roof.
Leap castle must have been a perpetual source of inspiration of gothic horror novelist and resident of Leap, "Mildred Darby." Her fascination for the supernatural must have been properly satisfied living here or perhaps her novels contributed to the legend of Leap. It's such a shame her unpublished works were lost the fire, who knows the stories those pages captured.
Theory for Horrors
It has been theorised that the reason for the horrors of Leap castle, lies beneath its foundations, for the castle was built on top of a druidic initiation site. There are many superstitions in Ireland over disturbing Neolithic sites, so perhaps this explains why Leap castle is prone to such paranormal activity.
That been said, only a few minutes down the road lies the fort of BallyCurragh. Quite an unusual fort at that, with its double circle. unfortunately it's on private land not open to the public, however, I was lucky enough to meet the landowner who allowed me a quick stroll.
This fort was huge. Encompassing 14 acres.
Above the “heart” rests a fine Irish stag. One of a few pieces throughout the castle. The Irish giant deer which is now extinct was one of the largest deer in the world and roamed much of the Irish forests.