Leap Castle, Co. Offaly was the principal seat of the ruling O’Carrolls of Ely and was constructed in the sixteenth century to defend against the encroachments of Butlers of Ormond.
The tower house has a bartizan (a projecting floorless turret used to defend a tower house/ building) at the north west corner and a crenellated wall-walk. In 1532 after the death of the O’Carroll chieftain, family arguments resulted in the death of a priest who was a member of the family, by his brother while he was saying mass. Since then the chamber has been known as the ‘bloody chapel’.
As late as the earlier part of the twentieth century, workmen discovered an oubliette just off the main chamber. The oubliette is a small chamber hidden within the wall of the ‘bloody chapel’ which consists of a small hole in the floor through which a person was pushed and fall to their death as they fell through a drop of c.2m, in the case of Leap Castle, landing on a series of wooden spikes.
The building to the north of Leap Castle consists of a Georgian house built around the core of an earlier Jacobean house. Leap Castle is regarded as one of the most haunted castles in Ireland. Mildred Darby (whose family came to own the castle through marriage with the O’Carroll family in 1659) published an account of her encounter with an elemental spirit mentioning the shape and strong odour of the spirit.
If you want to learn more about and visit Leap Castle why not read our ’Ghouls, Ghosts and Graveyards’ tour itinenary and contact us for availability.
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