Families Killed Each Other At Leap Castle, A Centuries-Old Paranormal Hot Spot

Ireland's Leap Castle has a very bloody history, which makes it unsurprising that various visitors and owners have counted as many as 20 ghosts on the grounds. Although some spirits have only shown themselves once and haven't done much of note, the Elemental of Leap Castle had earned a reputation for being malevolent to those who seek it out. Other notable spectral inhabitants include the Red Lady and a priest whose murder took place within the castle's chapel.

The O'Carroll family owned the castle for more than a century, but they spent much of this time feuding amongst themselves about who should rule Leap Castle. Ownership passed to the Darbys in the 1600s, who kept it in the family until 1922. Murder, betrayal, and torture were constantly on the menu for the first few hundred years of the castle's existence. Although this type of behavior has long since ended, there are some who claim that paranormal activity continues to this day. In fact, Ghost Adventures has visited Castle Leap, along with several other modern ghost hunters. As a result, many have dubbed this one of the best examples of the numerous haunted Irish castles. 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY

  • A Priest Was Murdered By His Brother In The Bloody Chapel

    The O'Carroll family owned Leap Castle since its unveiling in the 15th century. However, this didn't prevent family members residing within its walls from squabbling with each other. One of the worst inner-family feuds took place between two O'Carroll brothers, who presumably had several arguments about which of them would eventually rule the castle.

    Leap Castle contains a chapel, and one of the brothers, Thaddeus, served as a priest. While conducting mass for some of the O'Carroll family, Thaddeus was brutally attacked and murdered by his sword wielding brother, Teighe. Visitors to Leap Castle now refer to the murder spot as the Bloody Chapel, and some have spotted the priest's ghost. 

  • The Red Lady Haunted The Castle After The Murder Of Her Baby

    The cruelty of the O'Carrolls has become the stuff of legends. A prime example is the mistreatment that a woman supposedly received from them at some point during the 1500s. Known now as the Red Lady, myths claim she was a long-term prisoner of the O'Carrolls who faced hideous abuse, including rape. She became pregnant after enduring one of many sexual assaults, but the O'Carrolls wouldn't allow the child to live. Distraught after the murder of her baby, the Red Lady took her own life.

    Some believe she still haunts the castle grounds firmly gripping the knife that brought an end to her torture. 

  • Tons Of Skeletons Were Found Impaled Beneath A Trap Door

    A horrifying part of Leap Castle's past came to light in the early 1900s. A trap door was uncovered and anyone who fell down it became impaled on spikes. Even though it was centuries after the O'Carrolls ruled over Leap Castle, workers found and removed the skeletons of an astounding 150 people.

    Around the same time, Jonathan Darby found three additional skeletons hidden inside the castle's walls. Instead of having these human remains removed and buried, Darby told workers to seal them back into the walls. Imagine knowingly living with the proof of such gruesome crimes. It's no wonder so many people claim Leap Castle is one of the world's most haunted places.  

  • An Entire Family Was Poisoned To Death During A Celebration

    In a move that seems straight out of Game of Throneslocal legends state that the O'Carroll family coldheartedly refused to honor a contract they'd made with the McMahons. These hired warriors had done the O'Carroll's dirty work by defeating enemy forces that sought to take over Leap Castle. In response, the O'Carrolls invited the McMahons to a feast that was ostensibly held in their victorious honor.

    However, the truth behind this celebration was quite different. Rather than settle their debts, the O'Carrolls fed poison to the entire McMahon family. As a result, some visitors to the castle claim they've spotted the ghosts of this betrayed family.

  • The 1880s Brought Séances And Gothic Novels To The Castle

    The 1880s Brought Séances And Gothic Novels To The Castle
    Photo: National Science and Media Museum / flickr / No known copyright restrictions

    Gothic novelist Mildred Darby, who wrote under the pen name Andrew Merry, moved into the castle in 1889 with her new husband, Jonathan. Darby's fascination with the occult heavily influenced her writing, much of which including occult themes.

    Additionally, she utilized Leap Castle's supposedly haunted history as a springboard for holding séances within its walls. After having an encounter with the specter nicknamed the Elemental, Darby recorded her experience and turned to the Occult Review to share it with others. Mildred and Jonathan Darby abandoned the castle in 1922. 

  • A Spirit Called 'The Elemental' Resides Within The Castle

    One of the spirits that former Leap Castle owner Mildred Darby claimed to contact is the Elemental. No one knows for sure who or what this entity is, but there are rumors that it traces its roots to ancient Druid activity that predates the castle. Perhaps the most compelling myth, though, is that an enemy of the O'Carroll family created the Elemental out of dark magic and unleashed its destructive power on Leap Castle.

    Another legend states the Elemental is the angry ghost of an O'Connell. Regardless of this spirit's true identity, it's believed to only attack those who provoke its rage.