In the Leap Castle in Ireland, the ruthless clan O’Carroll left a trail of blood. Many of their victims came back as ghosts, haunting the halls of the castle. As well as a mysterious spirit known as The Elemental, that might have been there since druid times. 

Leap Castle, or Caisleán Léim Uí Bhánáin in Irish, is a place steeped in mystery and dark history in the heart of the emerald island. It is known as one of the most haunted places in the world, with tales of murder, betrayal, and torture dating back centuries. 

The castle’s dark past has earned it the title of “The Most Haunted Castle in Ireland,” and it is not hard to see why. From the notorious O’Carroll family who ruled the castle to the terrifying tales of the Elemental that haunts its halls, Leap Castle is a place that sends shivers down the spine of even the bravest of souls. 

History of the Leap Castle

The very history of the castle is steeped in bloody red, and even how it got its name is a history of death and insanity. 

Originally, Leap Castle was called ‘Leim Ui Bhanain’. This means Leap of the O’Bannons. According to this legend there were two brothers that were having a contest of who was to lead the clan. To decide this they had a contest of bravery. Whoever survived after jumping from the rocks where Leap Castle was built was to be the next leader. 

When Leap Castle was built is up for debate, some citing everything from the 1200s to 1500s. Some think it was a sacred place for druids before a castle was built on the site. It is also said to be the castle in Ireland that has been inhabited the longest. 

The Leap Castle was used as the stronghold for the O’Carroll clan and said to be the most fortified castle in the country. The O’Carroll were a Gaelic Irish clan and they were known for being ruthless and bloody, something the supposed hauntings going on in the castle echoes. 

Read More: Check out all of the Haunted Castles in the world

It stayed with the O’Carroll clan until it was conquered by an English soldier called John Darby of the Cromwellian forces. The Darbys kept the castle from 1642 to 1922. Then it was looted in an uprising and burnt to the ground in the Irish Civil War. 

It was abandoned until 1974 when it was bought by an Australian that started the restoration work that continues to this day. 

Ghost Sightings at Leap Castle

There have been countless reports of ghost sightings at Leap Castle over the years. Many visitors claim to have seen the Elemental, while others have reported hearing strange noises and feeling a sense of unease when they enter the castle’s haunted halls.

There is said to be a woman said to haunt the place wearing only a red cloth covering her face. She is always seen screaming loudly. An old man has been seen numerous times sitting peacefully by the fire in the main hall. 

In the remains of what is called the Priest’s house there is a burly man, in rough clothes, like a peasant; he always pushes a heavy barrel up the backstairs of the wing, near the servant’s bedrooms, and when just at the top, the barrel rolls down and all disappears. Here there is also a monk, with a tonsure and cowl, walking in at one window and out another.

The Elemental of Leap Castle

The Elemental is perhaps the most famous ghost associated with Leap Castle. It is said to be a malevolent spirit that haunts the castle’s halls, wreaking havoc on anyone who crosses its path. The Elemental is said to be a manifestation of the anger and pain that was inflicted on the castle’s former inhabitants.

The Elemental is described as a tall, dark figure with a foul stench. It is said to have no face and no discernible features, but it radiates a sense of pure malevolence. The spirit is said to be particularly active in the Bloody Chapel, where it has been known to attack visitors.

In the Leap Castle in Ireland, the ruthless clan O’Carroll left a trail of blood. Many of their victims came back as ghosts, haunting the halls of the castle. As well as a mysterious spirit known as The Elemental, that might have been there since druid times. 
The Elemental: The most known spirit residing at Leap Castle is that of the Elemental. It is a mysterious spirit that no one really knows where comes from. Some say it is from the O’Carroll family, some say it is from the druid’s that lived there long before the castle was built. It is said to be a malevolent spirit and have been reported to be potentially dangerous for the living.

There are many theories about the origins of the Elemental. Some believe that it was summoned by the O’Carroll family as a means of protection, while others believe that it is the result of the castle’s violent history. 

Some think it could be the spirit of Gerald Fitzgerald Earl of Kildare. According to the legend he was a practitioner of magic and tried to take over the castle many times in the early to mid 1500s. Or it could perhaps be a spirit of one of the O’Carrol clan that died in the castle from Leprosy. 

Another theory is older than the castle itself, and thought to be a spirit put there by druids that used to live there before the castle was built to protect the sacred site they used for rituals and magic. 

Invoking the Spirit of Leap Castle

Since when the spirit came to the castle is uncertain as it was abandoned for so many years. Some claim it was a woman called Mildred Darby that invoked the spirit when she dabbled in the occult and wrote down a lot of her experiences in Leap Castle. 

Mildred Darby lived in the castle in the early 1900s and is the person that made many of the legends and ghost stories surrounding the castle known to the world when she published her experiences living in the castle. 

Read More: Check out all ghost stories from Ireland

This was at the same time when they found over 100 skeletons in the Oubliette in the Red Chapel we will discuss later in the article. 

Whatever its origins, the Elemental remains one of the most terrifying ghosts in the castle, although it is said it only comes when provoked. The Ryans that have lived in Leap Castle since 1991 claim that they haven’t had any hauntings from this spirit since they moved in. 

The Ghosts of Emily and Charlotte

There are two little girls said to be haunting the castle. The little girls aged 11 and 6 respectively are seen mostly playing in the main hall and running in the stairs. People think they might have been one of the last of the O’Carrolls residing in the castle or perhaps even the first of the Darbys as they look like they came from the 1600s. 

Emily is said to have died from a fall from the battlements on the south-east side of the castle. People claim to have seen a girl falling from the roof but disappearing before hitting the ground. 

According to the Ryans, they have on more than one occasion heard a child scream as if reliving the final moments from falling. Charlotte on the other hand is seen with a deformed right leg. She drags it backwards, trying to keep up with the older ghost. Accompanying the little girls is often the ghost of a Governess of a Nanny. 

A lot of the information about the two girls, comes from Mildred Darby’s seances and she had this to see about her encounter with the girls: 

Another night I was sleeping with my little girl. I awoke, and saw a girl with long, fair hair standing at the fireplace, one hand at her side, the other on the chimney-piece. Thinking at first it was my little girl, I felt on the pillow to see if she were gone, but she was fast asleep. There was no fire or light of any kind in the room.

The Red Lady

One of the more prominent figures haunting the Leap Castle is the Red Lady. According to the legends she was a woman that was kidnapped by the O’Carroll clan and kept as a prisoner in the castle. 

While imprisoned she was raped by more than one member of the O’Carroll clan and got pregnant. This was not welcomed by the O’Carroll that didn’t want to be responsible for feeding another mouth. 

When she gave birth to the child, one of the clan members killed the baby with a dagger. This was the final drop for the mother who grabbed the very same dagger and killed herself with it. 

In the Leap Castle in Ireland, the ruthless clan O’Carroll left a trail of blood. Many of their victims came back as ghosts, haunting the halls of the castle. As well as a mysterious spirit known as The Elemental, that might have been there since druid times. 
The Red Lady: In one of the old nursery rooms of Leap Castle it is said that the spirit of the Red Lady is haunting. She is believed to be a kidnapped woman from another clan that was held captive in the castle.

After her horrible death, many have claimed to have seen the Red Lady in the castle. According to them, she is a tall woman dressed in red. She is said to walk through the castle, still holding the dagger they used to kill her child. 

Mildred Daryb described her like this in her article Kilman Castle: The House of Horror

There is a tall, dark woman, in the historic scarlet silk dress that rustles. She haunts the blue room, which always used to be the nursery, and sobs at the foot of the children’s beds.

The legends of The Red Lady are plentiful in Ireland, especially in the old castles and mansions. They often work in the ghost stories like the Lady in White of mainland Europe or the Grey Lady in Scandinavia. In many of the stories about the Lady in Red, she met a bloody and violent end. 

The Red Chapel

Another one of the horrible stories from Leap Castle comes from within what is known as the Bloody Chapel were people have seen bright light coming from the upper windows at night when passing the castle, even though no one is inside. 

Once one of the priests of the O’Carroll was murdered by his brother in a power struggle within the family after the ruling chieftain Mulrooney O’Carroll died in 1532. 

In the Leap Castle in Ireland, the ruthless clan O’Carroll left a trail of blood. Many of their victims came back as ghosts, haunting the halls of the castle. As well as a mysterious spirit known as The Elemental, that might have been there since druid times. 
The Ghost of the Priest: In the Red Chapel there is said to be more than one ghost lingering. One of them is the ghost of a priest that are said to have been murdered inside of the chapel. This spirit has also been seen lurking on the stairway below and also leaving the chapel via the western door to the bartizan and down the northern stairs.

The priest had just began mass when his brother stormed into the chapel and murdered him there. Because the priest started the mass before the arrival of the brother, it was considered a huge insult by him and it ended in bloodshed.

After this, it is said that the priest have been haunting the chapel, especially as he has been seen standing in the stairway. 

The Oubliette

Inside of this is a chamber called The Oubliette. It used to be a place where they stored valuable things as well as working as a hiding place if the castle was under a siege. 

The O’Carrolls had another purpose for this place though. They used the place as a small dungeon where they kept prisoners. The very word Oubliette is French meaning to forget. And one time the O’Carroll’s threw one of their prisoners inside of the chambers, they simply forgot about it entirely. 

They also used it to dispose of the bodies that they killed within the castle walls. They used to invite people over to a feast, but poison the food and cut their throat before being thrown into the Oubliette. It is said that 39 of the O’Neill clan were killed this way. 

One of the most famous ghost sightings at Leap Castle occurred in the 1900s when they rediscovered the chambers again. A group of workmen were repairing the castle when they discovered a secret room hidden behind a wall in the Red Chapel. Inside the room, they found hundreds of skeletons according to the stories.

Since the discovery of the secret room, there have been countless reports of ghostly activity in and around the castle. Visitors have reported seeing apparitions, hearing strange noises, and feeling a sense of dread when they enter certain parts of the castle. Despite the many ghost sightings, however, the castle remains a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors from all over the world who are intrigued by its haunted reputation.

A Visit to the Haunted Leap Castle

Its haunted reputation has earned it a place in the hearts of ghost hunters and paranormal enthusiasts from all over the world. From the horrors of the Bloody Chapel to the malevolent spirit of the Elemental, Leap Castle is a place that sends shivers down the spine of even the bravest of souls.

Despite its dark past, Leap Castle has become a place of beauty and wonder, a testament to Ireland’s rich cultural heritage. It has inspired countless books, movies, and TV shows, and it continues to capture the imaginations of people from all over the world. 

More like this

Newest Posts


Featured Image: Dieglop/Wikimedia

History | Leap Castle 

The Elemental | Leap Castle 

Emily & Charlotte | Leap Castle 

The most haunted castle in Ireland: the story of novelist Andrew Merry (aka Mrs Mildred Darby) of Leap Castle, Co. Offaly, by Noel Guerin | offalyhistoryblog 

The Murdered Woman | Leap Castle 

Leave a Reply