Would you like to hear about Leap Castle in Co. Offaly...it is said to be the most haunted castle in Ireland...
It is thought to have been built circa 1250 on a Druidic site which in turn was once an ancient ring-fort...it belonged to the O'Carroll clan, who had a fearsome reputation even in the days of people who veered towards being bloodthirsty...
In 1532 the Chieftain...a Mulrooney O'Carroll died and there followed a bitter and prolonged dispute as to who should become the new Chieftain...the argument ended when one-eyed Teige O'Carroll burst into the castles chapel where his brother Thaddeus was saying Mass, and stabbed him in the back with his sword...
Poor Thaddeus fell face down on the altar in front of the family and died. There is obviously much more to this story of the succession...unless it meant that one-eyed Teige became the Chieftain...haven't researched any further than the basics yet...
Anyway...ever since the chapel was, and still is, known as The Bloody Chapel. Thaddeus haunts it naturally...even when the castle was in ruins people said they saw lights in the windows of the chapel late at night...
A much bigger murder involving forty mercenaries from the clan of McMahon...they'd been hired by the O'Carroll's to teach them the newer methods of warfare, but the O'Carroll's, being too mean to pay the bill for the instruction, invited the McMahons to a feast and poisoned their food... all forty of them. And all forty are said to still haunt the castle now...
During the late 1600's the castles ownership passed to the Darby family...Captain Darby was an Englishman who'd fallen in love with one of the O'Carroll's girls...
Ghosts and murders seem to have eased off a little until the early 1900's when a Mildred Darby, who was interested in the occult, began to dabble in the black arts and is credited with releasing an Elemental into the castle...
Now Elementals are the true nasties of the spirit world...they don't drift across landings in long white frocks or rattle bedroom door knobs gently in the middle of the night...they come up close and personal and stink of decomposition and look evil, with leering eyes in an inhuman face...
Mildred was a bit silly to play about with things she didn't know to leave well alone but the occult was a popular pastime for ladies of leisure...she was sufficiently unnerved by this primitive spirit to write to the occult journal in 1909 describing how it appeared to her...it put its hand on her shoulder apparently...and it stank to high heaven and was about as big as a sheep. I'd have had the willies...Mildred left the castle and returned to her home in England with her husband.
Which was just as well, because in 1922 the I.R.A. burned the castle down and it was left in a ruinous state until the present owners took it on and began to restore it in 1991.
But I haven't finished with the horror actually...Leap castle has an Oubliette...a special kind of dungeon...not down in the depths of the castle but in the middle of the hive of activity...people chatting and delicious smells of food wafting past...the flickering lights of candles...
An Oubliette is a purpose built hole with a grid over the top...it's a deep hole...not one you could climb out of. Sometimes they were extremely small so the prisoner was unable to lie or sit but had to remain upright until he starved to death...the one at Leap Castle was studded with sharp wooden stakes pointing upwards so when you were thrown in part of you would be caught on a stake...
Some work was being done in the late 20's...presumably some kind of salvage work after the fire...when workmen found the Oubliette quite by chance...and the bones of the victims who had died trapped inside...it took three cart loads to remove all the bones...150 people altogether.
The new owner, by the name of Sean Ryan, has managed to avoid the Elemental...he and his wife refer to it as It. But they have frequent contact with the other ghosts.
The original castle...the part that dates back to when it was first built...is the centre part that looks much like a tower...the parts at the sides were added on in the 1700's.