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Leap Castle: The Haunting Echoes of Coolderry

Leap Castle Bloody Chapel

In the heart of Coolderry, County Offaly, nestled between the towns of Roscrea and Kinnitty, stands the imposing Leap Castle. A silent sentinel that has watched over the land for centuries, its walls whisper tales of ambition, treachery, and the supernatural.

The castle's genesis is shrouded in mystery. While its exact age remains debated, it's widely believed to have been erected around 1250 AD by the O'Bannon clan. Originally named "Léim Uí Bhanáin" or "Leap of the O'Bannons", it marked the influence of the O'Bannons, who, despite being secondary chieftains to the ruling O'Carroll clan, held significant sway over this fertile region. The castle's ancient foundations hint at a more profound history, suggesting the presence of an even older ceremonial structure. Indeed, the very land it occupies has felt the tread of humankind since possibly Neolithic times.

But it wasn't just the land that saw power struggles. The Earl of Kildare, Gerald FitzGerald, set his sights on the castle twice in the early 16th century. While his first attempt in 1513 was thwarted, he returned in 1516, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. But the O'Carrolls were not to be undone and reclaimed their home by 1557.

Leap Castle Siege

Leap Castle's halls have witnessed more than just territorial battles. Following the death of chieftain Mulrooney O'Carroll in 1532, a brutal internal family feud ignited. The heart of this castle, the "Bloody Chapel", saw the unthinkable: a priest, in the midst of delivering mass, was slain by his own brother, his life force spilling over the very altar he served.

By 1659, the winds of change blew once again. Through matrimony, the Darbys became the castle's custodians. Their legacy was marked by both expansion and tragedy. Mildred Darby, with her penchant for séances and Gothic tales, brought eerie fame to the castle, claiming it as a nexus of paranormal activities. However, the Darbys' era reached a fiery climax during the Irish Civil War in 1922, when much of the castle was consumed by flames.

The castle's rebirth began in 1974 when historian Peter Bartlett purchased it. His commitment to restoring Leap Castle to its former glory was matched only by the musician Sean Ryan and his wife Anne, who took over the mantle in 1991 and have since been devoted to its resurrection.

Leap Castle mysteries

Today, Leap Castle is not just an architectural marvel but a magnet for those intrigued by the supernatural. Television shows from Scariest Places on Earth to Ghost Adventures have explored its haunted reputation (Including our very own Spooked Ireland]. Legends speak of the Red Lady, the apparitions of two young girls, and an elemental spirit linked to Mildred Darby, earning it the title "the world's most haunted castle".

Yet, beyond its ghostly fame, Leap Castle has graced popular culture in myriad ways. From featuring on book covers to being the subject of podcasts like "How Haunted?" and "Lore", the castle's allure is undeniable.

With a history so rich and a presence so palpable, Leap Castle beckons not just as a relic of the past, but as a living testament to Ireland's storied tapestry.

So, get ready to mark your calendars and set your reminders because you won't want to miss this one. This Friday, the Leap Castle episode will air on Really Channel. If you're unable to catch it on TV, you can stream it later on Discovery+. Like many of the locations we cover, Leap Castle is shrouded in mystery, and we're on the verge of uncovering more secrets. So keep your eyes peeled and your recording devices ready. Stay Spooked, my friends!

Leap Castle Spooked Ireland

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Absolutely brilliant episode. love leap castle. My team is back in January.

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I will for sure 👻🏰😊

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