(Caisleán Léim Uí Bhánáin)

R421, Leap, IR

+353 86 869 0547

Status: Famous Haunted Castle



Please Share Your Experiences
Name Your Experiences @ Leap Castle Submit

Castles of Leinster- Leap, Offaly (geograph 1952750).jpg

By Mike Searle, CC BY-SA 2.0Link

The Castle has a Long and Gruesome History and the Paranormal Activity Reflects That. Reader Discretion is Advised.



No one is 100% sure when the main keep was first constructed but the date agreed to by the majority is around 1250. It was built by the O’Bannon clan who were secondary chieftains to the O’Carroll clan.

There is evidence the castle was built on a prehistoric site with a stone structure – possibly ceremonial – dating back to the Iron Age (500 BCE).

In 1513 the Earl of Kildare, Gerald FitzGerald, attempted to seize castle and failed. He returned in 1516 and managed to take it by partially destroying it. In 1557 the O’Carroll clan regained possession of the castle.

However, at that time the O’Carrolls were undergoing a civil war for leadership of the clan. This led to the legend of the Bloody Chapel at the castle when one brother broke into the chapel and slayed another brother – who was a priest – with a sword on the altar of the chapel.

In the 17th century the castle was passed to the Darby family. Seances were held in the castle at this time which first brought public attention to castle and it’s alleged haunting. Many believe Mildred Darby may have woken up many of the castle’s ghosts especially the Elemental (see below).

The castle was burned in the Irish Civil War in 1922 and there were stories of an attempted insurance scam afterwards.

In 1974 the then abandoned castle was purchased an Australian historian Peter Barlett who began a restoration which lasted until his death in 1989.

In 1991 the castle was bought by Sean Ryan – a musician – and his wife Anne who are still the owners today. Tours can be arranged by contacting the Ryans personally.

The Ryans have continued the renovations.


Paranormal Activity

This location calls itself “the world’s most haunted castle”.

The most famous ghost of Leap Castle is “The Red Lady”.

She is said to be either a woman captured by the O’Carrolls who was then raped and became pregnant. When her baby was born it was immediately slain with a knife – as in still attached the umbilical cord - at which point the woman grabbed the knife and ended her own life as well. The other story is that two O’Carroll men were fighting over the same woman who attempted to escape – she probably wanted neither man – and was stabbed to death.

She now roams the castle in a long red dress. She is said to be quite tall and lean with long chestnut hair and she always has a dagger held above her head as if she about to stab someone.

After The Red Lady the Elemental is the second most famous spirit inhabiting the castle.

The so-called Elemental may date back to when Druids called magical beings to protect the land but many believe it is Gerald Fitzgerald – rumoured to have been a powerful magic-user – who occupied the castle after invading it. Either way the Elemental is a powerful spirit that will generally leave witnesses alone unless it is provoked.

The Elemental is described as in a semi-decomposed state with dead rotting eyes and an overwhelming stench of sulphur and decaying flesh. Usually, it is referred to simply as “It” and is said not to be trifled with.

The Bloody Chapel is a burned out ruin today but echoes of a legendary horrible murder are still here.

The apparition of a priest; said to be the murdered brother is seen on the staircase. Unexplained light streaming out of the ruins is very commonly reported. The phantom smell of rubber burning is also reported both in and near the chapel.

In 1922 the Priest’s House – with it’s long history of apparition sights – was burned out. Previous to this the house was habitable but people sleeping there reported someone and invisible getting into bed with them. Whoever it is then goes to sleep and snores.

The Priest’s House is also where multiple shadow figures were seen. As well the apparition the large man rolling a barrel up to the house before disappearing is seen.

The apparition of a large bodied monk in a cowl is often seen here today walking through the building using windows as an entrance and exit as if there were doors there.

The ghosts of 2 little girls – Emily and Charlotte – who lived in the castle in the 16th century. They have been seen playing in the main hall of the castle. Charlotte is known as having died due to a fall from the battlements and her ghost is seen dragging her deformed leg.

Occasionally the girls are seen with a ghost called the Governess or the Nanny. The Governess is also seen in the castle on her own. She is described as a tall severe looking woman.

The apparition of an old man is seen sitting in a chair seemingly enjoying the heat from the main hall’s fireplace.

A woman is said to have been murdered – by her own family member – also in the 16th century. Her ghost is seen in very little clothing; she is said to scream twice loudly before vanishing into thin air.