Leap Castle, Coolderry, Ireland

The Most Haunted Building In Ireland

There are varied accounts as to when exactly the main tower/keep was constructed; ranging anywhere from the 13th century to the late 15th century, but most likely around 1250 CE. It was built by the O’Bannon clan and was originally called “Léim Uí Bhanáin” (as was the fertile land around the castle which was associated with the Bannon clan), or “Leap of the O’Bannons”. The O’Bannons were the “secondary chieftains” of the territory and were subject to the ruling O’Carroll clan. There is evidence that it was constructed on the same site as another ancient stone structure perhaps ceremonial in nature, and that that area has been occupied consistently since at least the Iron Age (500 BCE) and possibly since Neolithic times.

Leap Castle is said to be the most haunted castle in Ireland.  It has had a horrific history with each passing century being punctuated by ferocious acts of violence.

One of the most gruesome murders to take place in the castle occurred  in a room above the main hall of the castle which is now know as ‘The Bloody Chapel’ where in 1532 ‘one-eyed Teige O’Carroll’ murdered his own brother as he celebrated Mass in for the rest of the family.  The priest’s spirit is said to haunt the Bloody Chapel and is thought to be one of Leap’s earliest ghosts.

The Bloody Chapel is said to be the home of many a ghoul. People have said on passing the Castle at night they have seen a very bright light shooting out of the upper windows.This occurrence has been reported since the time of the Darbys. However neighbours have called the current owners the Ryan’s to report that the Chapel was in full Illumination. Strange smells of rubber have also been reported during peoples visit to the upper hall.


One of the more sinister features of the Bloody Chapel is the oubliette. The oubliette is a small chamber located in the North-Eastern corner of the Bloody Chapel. It is thought that the original use for these chambers was to store valuables. They were also used as a place to hide in the event of a siege. The O’Carrolls used this chamber for a more a deadly purpose. They adapted this chamber to serve as a small dungeon where the poor prisoners were thrown in, dead or dying. The entrance to the chamber is a narrow hole originally fitted with a form of trap door. The name is derived from the French “to forget”.

Since the burning of Leap Castle in 1922, the Priest’s House is still an empty shell so most of the accounts relate to the times of the Darbys. At present, shadowy forms are most seen wandering through the empty building.

Castle Ghosts of Ireland (HD) (1995) (COMPLETE EPISODE)


Leap was burnt out and destroyed in 1922 by the IRA while the Darbys were living in England. The castle lay in ruins until it was purchased by the current owners Sean and Anne Ryan in 1991.  Sean has restored the castle and was a most gracious host when I called to visit Leap to take these photographs.  Sean has frequent sightings of the numerous spirits of Leap but thankfully the Ryan’s have never encountered the Elemental who for now seems to have retreated.  Despite some early skirmishes he has found that his family and the resident spirits have been able to coexist quite happily at Leap.

Here is a YouTube video of the current owner the very talented musician Sean Ryan talking of the Castles Ghosts and there are quite a few.




The photos are property of respective owners






Leap Castle “Another Haunted Irish Castle”

Alvito, Alentejo

Alvito  is a Village and a municipality in Beja District in Portugal.

The Alvito region has been inhabited since the Neolithic, and during the period of Roman domination several villae were established nearby, later occupied by Visigoths and Moors. During the Reconquista, Alvito was conquered by the Portuguese in 1234, being later (1251) donated by King Afonso III to Estêvão Anes, chancellor of the kingdom, who promoted the settlement of the area.

The village gained a foral (letter of feudal rights) in 1280, confirmed by King Dinis I in 1283. In 1296 an annual fair was established, attesting the rapid development of the region. In 1387, King John I donated Alvito to knight Diogo Lobo in exchange for his services in the decisive Battle of Aljubarrota (1385), and in 1475 the title of Baron was granted to the rulers of Alvito.

Alvito Castle

The 15th and 16th centuries were a time of strong economic and populational development of Alvito, which reached 1700 inhabitants in 1527. The Castle of Alvito was rebuilt between 1494 and 1504, and its architecture and decoration show an interesting mix of Manueline (Portuguese late Gothic) and Mudéjar (Arab-influenced) styles, typical of the Alentejo region. Also the main church (matriz) of Alvito, in a mix of Manueline and early Renaissance styles, dates from the early 16th century.

Main Church (matriz)


“Ermida de S. Sebastião”
“Ermida de S. Sebastião” fits in Manueline-Mudéjar style, being very similar, although more humble, to the Ermidas of S. Brás de Évora and Santo André of Beja.
It is a building of longitudinal plant, formed by a rectangular nave and a chancel. The vault of the nave, as well as that of the main chapel, are lined with fresco paintings composed of musician angels, attributed to José de Escobar’s workshop.

Inside “Ermida de S. Sebastião”


Inside “Ermida de S. Sebastião”


 The castle was built under D. Afonso V reign in 1481, the first Baron of Alvito, in a slight soil elevation next to Praça da República square. It has a rectangular plan and tower-shaped vertexes. The squared keep rises from northwest in the middle of the wall with its thick walls and grid windows. Its palace-like features are given by Manueline style windows with double horseshoe arches in lacing tile and white marble pillars. Alvito Castle has been recently recovered and converted into a Pousada.

Alvito Castle


This church was built in the end of the 15th century, combining several styles, from Gothic to Baroque, from Manueline to Renaissance and Mannerism. It has an interesting Renaissance portal and big buttresses with conic tower endings and battlements on top. In the south wing rises the clock tower with its marble sun clock. 17th century tiles, mainly yellow over a white background, predominantly cover the interior. The main chapel dates back to the 15th century, preceded by an arch framed by pilasters made of typical Alentejo stone. Thirty coffers divided in six rows split the cradle vault.

Main Church

Inside Main Church

Inside Main Church
Inside Main Church

Source: Wikipedia