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30th Jan 2020

We visited Ireland’s most haunted castle

Alan Fisher

After searching for new places to visit, I stumbled across Leap Castle which is said to be Ireland’s most haunted castle.

I had never heard of it before but after some quick research, I found that it’s rich in history and pretty dark history at that.

The castle is over 700 years old and has been owned by a couple of different families, most notably the O’Carrolls who fought hard for it.

It got to the stage where the two O’Carroll brothers were fighting for power of the castle when one of them, a priest, started a mass before the other arrived which resulted in the priest being murdered right there in the chapel.

This chapel, which sits on the top floor of the castle, is now known as the Bloody Chapel because of this and some other events.

The O’Carroll family also had a pit that was eight feet deep into which they used to push guests through a trap door and down onto spikes. They found this pit in the 1900s and it took three cartloads to remove the bones.

In the mid-1600s, one of the O’Carrolls moved to Maryland, US and his son, Charles, was the sole Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence. Pretty impressive.

There is honestly so much history based in this castle, I’d recommend you get yourself in a little rabbit hole on Google.

We rocked up to this castle in the middle of the day and really expected it to be a busy tourist attraction.

We were wrong.

It is located in the middle of nowhere and we were the only people there.

Sean Ryan, who owns and lives in the castle, suddenly appeared from nowhere behind us which wasn’t the ideal start for my heart.

He invited us in and we started to chat.

He told us that the castle had been left vacant since it was set of fire by the IRA in 1922. Then, during a period of recession, he saw the opportunity to purchase the castle in 1991 and has been restoring it since 1994.

Although it is labelled as Ireland’s most haunted castle online, when I brought this up to Sean he disagreed but said it definitely has spirits.

As you can see in the video; he mentions how he can hear footsteps, chatting and doors banging but never feels threatened in his home.

He often sees outlines of people with a haze or an aura around them.

He also tells us about the Red Lady or The Governess who is usually downstairs with two kids and is known to touch people.

Last year, a Swedish lady said it felt as if a dog had brushed past her.

After hearing about the wild past and eerie present that inspires many to refer to it as Ireland’s most haunted castle, Sean invites you to check out the two floors above.¬†One of these is a room full of old furniture, paintings, ornaments and a big table. I felt really uneasy as he stayed downstairs and we were alone.

The top floor is the Bloody Chapel which Sean has yet to renovate. He arms you with flashlights because the tiny winding stairs going up to it has no light.

It’s pretty eerie getting up the stairs and opening the creaking wooden door to the Bloody Chapel but when you enter, it’s actually quite peaceful.

Although it is strange to stand there and despite thinking of the many murders that happened in the room, you still feel at ease.

There is no glass in the windows so it’s filled with fresh air and the sound of crows outside. You also get a great view out the back.

Ireland's most haunted castle

Returning downstairs after some time, I felt way more at ease. In a strange way, I was kind of hoping to be brushed against by a spirit but it never came.

Even if we didn’t have any encounters with the Red Lady, I would still recommend checking out Leap Castle for the history alone.

Sean is very nice and seems happy to sit with you and tell you tales of the castle.

It’s only six quid per person so it won’t break the bank.

There is a website but it doesn’t seem to be run by Sean and his wife but there are contact details on it.

If you are traveling from the Dublin direction I would recommend checking out the Rock of Dunomase as well. It’s pretty cool.

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