|Location||Coolderry, County Offaly, Republic of Ireland (Google Maps)|
|Open for Visitors||Yes|
|Owned by||Private Owners|
|Official Website||Leap Castle|
Standing for over 700 years in Coolderry town in County Offaly, Leap Castle has witnessed an intense history, lives lost, and love affairs. It is believed to be one of the longest continually inhabited castles in Ireland. Many ghost stories are associated with it. This castle is open to visitors, where they can take the leap castle tour and explore the history and stories related to it closely.
Leap Castle History
Various stories are associated with when the castle’s main tower was constructed, but most likely, it was built around the 1250s. The castle was built by the O’Bannon Clan. It was initially called “Leap of the O’Bannons”.
A story is associated with the castle’s original name- the O’Bannon brothers were contesting for the leaders of their clan. To decide who would get the castle, they both decided to jump off the rocky outcrop of the castle. The winner was subject to the ruling O’Carroll clan. And the man that will survive will win the right to be chieftain of the clan.
O’Bannon’s were the secondary chieftains, and the true power belonged to O’Carroll Clan. In 1513, the Earl of Kildare attacked the castle to seize it, but it was unsuccessful. Three years later, he tried again and managed to harm the castle partially. But the castle remained with O’Carroll heirs only. In 1532, after the death of Mulrooney O’Carrol, the family struggled to manage the castle, and a lot of mishaps took place in it.
In 1649, Leap Castle was given to Cromwell’s Soldiers, Jonathon Darby, as a reward for his services in the battles of Ireland. Some sources also say that the castle was passed to the Darby family as Darby married one of the daughters of O’Carroll. The castle remained with the family for several generations.
In 1922, the castle was destroyed during the Irish Civil War. It remained untouched until 1974, when Peter Bartlett, an Australian descendant of the O’Bannon Clan, bought it. He worked on the castle’s restoration until he died in 1989. Later, Sean and Anne Ryan purchased the castle. Now, it is a privately owned castle that is open to the public.
Leap Castle Architecture
Leap Castle is a stone castle that features the architectural heritage of County Offaly. It is a three-storey house with a crenellated wall-walk. As it is a private home, you can’t explore all of it, but you can explore most of it. The upper floors are open for visitors. They are still in ruined condition.
The west side of the castle includes a 16th-century doorway. The original doorway is in the south wall, and the original machicolation above the doorway is still present. The Northside consists of the rectangular bartizan, which can be entered from the chapel on the top floor. Several parts of the castle, such as Bloody Chapel, Oubliette, and Priest’s House, are the must-explores.
Inside Leap Castle
Leap Castle has a historic feel. Some parts are still untouched, while most of them have been restored. It has cemented and stone feels from the inside only. You will find some historic décor and furniture from the 1300s. The owner has tried to maintain its authentic feel while restoring the castle from the inside. You can buy the castle tickets and explore most parts of the castle.
Note: Leap Castle is private property. Therefore, some parts of the castle are restricted to visitors.
Leap Castle Bloody Chapel
Leap Castle Bloody Chapel is the most popular part of the castle because of its various haunted stories. This is the place where O’Carroll’s sons killed his priest brother because he was performing mass in the chapel to gain power. It is believed to be an awful murder.
Now, it is a burnt-out shell. Many visitors have reported noticing light streaming from the barren windows at night. Some have also reported witnessing the ghost of the priest lurking in the stairway near the chapel.
Leap Castle Ghosts
Leap Castle visitors and owners have confirmed that it has some supernatural presence. Most of the castle tours are also related to castle ghosts. It is believed to be the most haunted castle in Ireland.
The Bloody Chapel, Priest’s House, Emily & Charlotte, The Governess, The Murdered Women, The Red Lady, and The Elemental- Many Ghost Stories are related to the castle. You must explore ghostly history before visiting the castle to make your visit thrilling.
Leap Castle Facts
- Leap Castle was featured on the cover of the “The Rider” novel by Tim Winton.
- One chapter in “The World of Lore: Dreadful Places” by Aaron Mahnke focuses entirely on this castle.
- This castle has also been featured in TV programs like “Most Haunted” and “Scariest places on Earth”.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Leap Castle?
Leap Castle is located 6km north of Roscrea, in Coolderry town, County Offaly. It is about 10km south of Kinnitty on R421 road. You can easily reach this castle via road.
How to visit Leap Castle?
Leap Castle is located between Roscrea and Birr town, about 1 hour and 45 minutes from Dublin, Galway, and Cork. There is no bus stop outside the castle. So, whenever visiting, follow GPS and reach by car.
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