Getting Touched by a Ghost inside Leap Castle: An Irish Castle Story

I climbed up the narrow spiral staircase behind my group. I was the last one up. As I climbed, I noticed a small wooden door. I grasped the handle and pulled it open. The door led to an empty and dark hallway. In my right hand, I held my heavy Sony a7Rii camera. In my left hand, I held out my phone; using it is a flashlight. As I began taking photos of the hallway, I felt fingers wrap around my left arm and yank it down. There was no mistake. Something had grabbed my arm and yanked it down, causing the light to fly around the stairway.

I was completely alone.

Goosebumps shot up my arm and I ran up the spiral step to where my people were gathered on the top floor of Leap Castle. As I reached the top, I shared what I had just experienced. My heart was racing and goosebumps and arm hair continued to stand on end. After a few deep breaths, I walked around the top floor of the castle (known as The Bloody Chapel) and began taking photos. One of my friends snapped photos of me taking photos out the window. All the photos were clear, except the ones that had me in them. There were 7 photos of me.  In those photos, I was blurred out. We didn’t realize until looking through photos later on.

Leap Castle is considered one of the most haunted places in Ireland. Regardless if you believe in ghosts or not and believe someone can scientifically explain all ghostly encounters, Leap Castle is equally creepy and beautiful. Visiting Leap was one highlight of my Ireland Vacation.

Before visiting Leap, we agreed we would visit the castle only if we had extra time. The night before our visit, we stayed at Kinnitty Castle, which is a beautifully restored castle in Offaly, Ireland. We had time in the morning, so we drove to Leap. From what I read about Leap, I assumed it was a touristy spot where you could walk up and buy a ticket. That wasn’t the case.

We parked by a gate, because we weren’t sure if we could drive in. The area was quiet and empty. As we approached, we laughed because everything felt off. Like we weren’t supposed to be there. There was a buzzer near the door and we pushed it. After waiting a few minutes, we pushed it again. We looked at one another and wondered what our next move would be. I reached up to use a large “knocker” on the door, but one person in our group stopped me because we were afraid we had walked up to someone’s home. Then, we opened the door and peaked in. We called out if we could come in and we heard a voice, “Come on.”

Inside Leap Castle, Sean Ryan, a retired musician who is the owner and caretaker of Leap Castle, greeted us. Leap has been a labor of love for Mr. Ryan for many years. Sean, in a matter-of-fact way, gave us a rundown of the history of the castle.

It is believed that Leap Castle was built around 1250 AD. The O’Bannon Clan were the original owners. There is evidence that Leap Castle was built upon a previous ancient structure dating back to 500 BC. In 1513, the Earl of Kildare attacked and partially destroyed the castle. The O’Carrolls took possession of the castle and in 1532, a rivalry for the castle took place after the elder O’Carroll passed away. The fight over the land and castle turned violent and bitter between brothers. While one brother was holding mass in the family chapel, another brother burst in and stabbed his brother as he prayed. This event has caused the chapel to be named “The Bloody Chapel.”

Over a hundred years later, in 1669, the castle came into the ownership of the Darby family. This is when accounts of ghosts were first recruited because of seances that were held in the castle. The family had fallen on hard times and sold much of the surrounding land and rented rooms.

The next big event for the castle came in 1922, during the Irish Civil War. They believed tenants were coerced into siding with the IRA. During the fire, they burned the west wing down. The owners had already fled before the fire.

Fast forward to today, which brings us to Mr. Ryan and his wife Anne. The couple purchased the property in 1989 and began renovating the castle. The renovation continues to this day. Visitors are asked to pay 6 pounds to assist with the renovation. It was the best 6 pounds I spent on vacation.

Mr. Ryan has stated he believes there are around 30 ghosts and he and his wife have seen many strange sightings and frequently hear footsteps and voices. I was not aware of the tale of a woman he calls “The Governess,” that likes to touch visitors. If I had known at the time of my grab, maybe I would’ve had a conversation. Doubtful.

After our private tour of Leap Castle, Mr. Ryan talked to us about a variety of things. He talked to us about his travels to New York City and playing tradition Trad music in many of the Irish bars. He gave us advice on what to do the rest of our time in Ireland and then provided us with a magical moment. He pulled out his tin whistle and asked us if we wanted to hear him play. With his foot tapping on the stone floor, he sent us off with a time-freezing moment as he played us a tune.


If you are in the Offalyf a favor sand visit Leap Castle. If I find myself in Ireland again, I’ll visit Mr. Ryan once more.  


Sean Ryan, the owner of Leap Castle in Offaly, played for us after our tour of the castle. #Ireland #Offaly #irishmusic #music #leapcastle #castle #flute #fyp #foryou #travel #traveltiktok #traveltheworld #ireland🇨🇮

♬ original sound – TheJasonGreene

Read these other stories from my trip to Ireland:
Taking a Black Taxi Tour of Belfast
Visiting the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher
Visiting the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin  

Like ghost stories? Check out these posts:
Staying in a Haunted Castle in Spain
A Ghostly Greeting in Charleston
Getting Lost on a Ghost Tour in London with My Son

More travel stories to read:
Visiting the Warmer Brothers Harry Potter Tour in England
Visiting Westminster Abbey
Lost on a Ghost Tour with my Son
Attending a Chelsea Match with My Son and Missing My Other Son
Walking in Shakespeare’s Footsteps: A Father/Son Story
3 Day Itinerary for Visiting Shakespeare’s England
Climbing Over the O2 Arena in London
Flying on The Thames in a Speedboat
How an Ice Cream Truck Saved the Day While Hiking Across England
Reliving the Dads4Kesem Hadrian’s Wall Hike

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