Leap Castle is located in County Offaly. Proudly listed as “the world’s most haunted” house on its website, it is safe to say this majestic manor has quite the name for itself.
Standing strong since the 16th-century, this castle has been witness to a tumultuous history.
It has stood through bloodshed and lives lost, love affairs and babies born.
Leap Castle has been the staging ground for atrocities that would exceed your wildest imagination.
Let’s take a look inside Leap Castle: Ireland’s most haunted house.
The castle in question can be dated back to the early 1500s when it was under the rule of the violent and deadly O’Carroll clan. John O’Carroll is recognised as being responsible for the earliest constructs of Leap Castle.
The Castle was passed from father to son for generations with murders (by oppositions, rival families and even within their own clan) punctuating the O’Carroll’s brutal history at the castle.
By the mid-1600s the castle moved into the hands of the Darby family, spearheaded by Jonathon Darby the 2nd, a Cromwellian soldier.
Again, as standard during this time, the castle’s power was passed from father and son for years to come. Post Darbys, another powerful clan, the Ryans, held the stronghold on this magnificent manor.
Revenge, rivalry and power played pivotal roles in shaping this castle’s history. Having lived long in the hands of those who swore allegiance to the British Crown, the castle represented turbulence and pain for many Irish locals. As a result of this, the castle was burned down in July 1922.
Without down its history offers death and detriment beyond belief. Entire battalions have lost their lives here, family members murdered family members. With all of this being said, it comes as no surprise that this is Ireland’s most haunted house.
The Ghosts of Leap Castle
Many ghosts are said to wander the corridors and endless archways of Leap Castle in County Offaly.
In fact, this historic house is so widely acknowledged as being one of Ireland’s spookiest houses that it has attracted paranormal investigators worldwide. It has been featured on TV shows including Scariest Places on Earth, Most Haunted, Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures.
The Bloody Chapel
The now burnt-out shell of the chapel on the grounds of Leap Castle remains one of the most haunted settings in the estate. It is said that here, during the rule of the O’Carrolls an awful murder occurred.
It is said that one of the O’Carroll sons killed his brother, a priest who was at the time performing mass in the chapel, in order to gain power.
Today, and for many generations, there have been reports of light streaming from its barren windows at nightfall. The smell of burning rubber and even the spirit of the murdered priest lurking in the stairwell are often reported.
The Priest’s House
Since the burning in 1922, the Priest’s House remains nothing but a derelict ruin. Apparitions, however, have been sighted for long before it was set alight.
Even Mildred Darby, a former resident of Leap Castle cites the paranormal activity.
“There is something heavy that lies on people’s beds, and snores, and they feel the weight of a great body pressing against them, in a room in the Priest’s House.”
“A monk, with a tonsure and cowl, walks in at one window and out another, in the Priest’s House.”
Emily & Charlotte
The ghosts of these two little girls can often be spotted playing in the Main Hall of Ireland’s most haunted house. They are said to have lived on the estate during the 1600s.
Emily died aged 11 after falling from the castle’s battlements. Today, there are still sightings of a little girl falling from its great heights, only to disappear before reaching the ground. Charlotte is seen dragging a deformed leg in tow.
The Murdered Woman
Again, this story is told to relate back to the O’Carroll rule. The ghost of this woman wanders today having been murdered by a member of the brutal family during the 1500s.
Sightings usually account for a terrified woman who is spotted wearing little clothing. She screams twice before disappearing into thin air.
The Governess and The Old Man
These two apparitions are seen sporadically in separate instances. The governess (also referred to as the nanny) is seen often alongside Emily and Charlotte.
The old man has been spotted on occasion sitting in a comfy armchair enjoying the heat in front of the Main Hall’s grand fireplace.
The Red Lady
Another apparition which haunts this castle to this very day is the Red Lady. There have been sightings of this creature for centuries. She is said to roam in a long red dress, tall and lean with long flowing brown locks. The Red Lady is always seen carrying a dagger, hand raised in a menacing manner.
The story goes that the woman was captured by one of the O’Carroll clan, raped and became pregnant. On delivering the baby, the O’Carroll’s killed the child with a blade. In absolute despair, the woman grabbed the knife and ended her life, too.
Another account states that two O’Carroll family members were fighting over the woman and when she tried to flee, they chased after her and stabbed her to death.
This spirit predates many families of Leap Castle. Some suggest the apparition named “the Elemental” potentially date back to the time of the Druids when sorcery would have been used to protect the sacred land, on which Leap Castle was then built.
Others say that Gerald Fitzgerald Earl of Kildare – an accomplished magic practitioner – in a bid to take the castle, is responsible for this spirit. Either way, it is said the Elemental is a menacing and sinister presence who only makes itself known to those who provoke it.
The Murder Hole Room
The Murder Hole Room is yet another place in the castle which has been deemed haunted over generations. Although the exact location of this room is disputed, claims of supernatural spirits are not. It is said that the “Murder Hole Room” was also the site of an O’Carroll family murder in Ireland’s most haunted house.
Visiting Leap Castle
Today Sean Ryan and family privately own the castle. Although they greatly confirm the supernatural presences which reside in the home, alongside them, they also have expressed that no sinister apparitions have been experienced during their tenure.
Those with an interest in visiting one of the most haunted houses in Ireland can contact Sean Ryan directly for private tours of Leap Castle.
Address: R421, Leap, Roscrea, Co. Offaly