Thursday, June 27, 2013

Haunted Leap Castle

Leap castle with its “Bloody Chapel” located in County Offaly in Ireland is considered extremely haunted. Its troubles started over 400 years ago when a fierce battle broke out in the O’Carroll family over who was to be the next clan leader. This bitter fight turned brother against brother. One brother, a priest, was holding a family mass in 1532 when his rival brother entered what is now called the Bloody Chapel and plunged his sword into his sibling, killing him. This first evil event is said to have put a curse on the castle. The ghost of this priest is still seen at Leap.

Over the years Leap Castle’s dungeon or oubliette off the Bloody Chapel was used to torture and kill prisoners. These prisoners were pushed down an opening in the floor where a spike impaled many eight feet below. The ones that didn’t die instantly found themselves left to smell the food aromas that arose from the rooms below as they starved to death. Workmen in the early 1900’s found evidence of this cruelty when they were cleaning out the oubliette-- they found human skeletons stacked on top of each other--it took several loads to remove all the bones.

Bloody chapel

In the late 1500s a fire gutted Leap Castle. Its gate remained pad-locked for 70 years. During this time witnesses often reported seeing lights from the upper windows late at night. One report states, “it was as if many candles were brought into these rooms”. Even today the opening above the oubliette and the dungeon itself is very active. Many witnesses have seen shadow figures and ghosts in the Bloody Chapel.


In the 1600s a family by the name of Darby owned the castle. They renovated Leap and made it their family home. In the 19th century a descendant of theirs, Mildred Darby was intrigued by "occult practices"-- a fad that had become popular. Out of curiosity she held several séances in the castle. Unfortunately she awoke a ferocious “elemental”. * In 1909, Mildred wrote an account of her terrifying ordeal after she held these séances for the Journal Occult Review:

“The thing was about the size of a sheep, thin gaunt and shadow in parts. Its face was human, or to be more accurate, inhuman, in its vileness, with large holes of blackness for eyes, loose slobbery lips, and thick salvia dripping jaw, sloping back suddenly into its neck. Nose it had none, only spreading cancerous cavities, the whole face being a uniform tint of grey. 

This too was the colour of the dark coarse hair covering it head, neck and body. Its fore arms were thickly coated in the same hair, so were its paws large loose and hand-shaped and as it sat on its hind legs, on hand or paw was raised, and a claw like finger was extended ready to scratch the paint. 

It lusterless eyes, which seemed half decomposed in black activities, and looked incredibly foul, stared into mine, and the horrible smell which had before offended my nostrils, only a hundred times intensified, came up into my face, filling me with deadly nausea. 

I noticed the lower half of the creature was indefinite and seemed transparent at least, I could see the framework of the door that led into the gallery through its body.”

After this account was published the castle gained the reputation for being even more haunted. It was stated that after Mildred’s innocent fun the castle became plagued with bad luck as well. The Darby family owned Leap for the next 113 years, until 1922. The Darby’s being English were literally driven out during the Irish struggle for independence.

In the 1970’s an Australian purchased Leap. He knowing it was haunted brought in a white witch from Mexico to cleanse the castle. After this it was stated that the spirits remained but they were no longer malevolent in nature. The current owners of the castle bought it in the 1990s. During renovations two freak accidents left the owner injured. In the first he suffered a broken kneecap and in the second a ladder he was standing on tilted backwards suddenly from the wall it leaned against, the owner then jumped several stories to the ground--he broke his ankle.

Despite these accidents the owners feel the spirits seem to be more at peace these days. But ghosts are still seen and felt. In 2002 the owner, his wife and a musician that was visiting stumbled across a ghostly old man sitting in a chair by the downstairs fireplace.

* Elementals are considered primitive ghosts. They become attached to specific places. These scary ghosts are malevolent in nature and are very unpredictable. 

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