by Matt Neal
Location: County Offaly, Ireland
Location: County Offaly, Ireland
Just in time for Halloween!! Here's a repost from my old website!!
[By posting this I'm not saying I believe in ghosts, it's just all in good fun. So please keep the comments civil. Comments are moderated.]
Well, here's the story.
My wife and I, on our last real vacation before getting in the "family way" went to Ireland, birthplace of our ancestors. While there I insisted (begged) that we go to Leap Castle, pronounced "Lep". Leap Castle is reputed to be the most haunted castle in Ireland. A quick google will give you the rundown. The current owner was gracious enough to give tourists an extensive tour, replete with a history lecture, tales of legends, and an enjoyable musical performance on some sort of Irish woodwind instrument (the name for which escapes me), all for 10 Euros a head.
The main legend associated with the castle is that of the "bloody chapel", located oddly enough at the very top of the castle and accessible only by those wonderful winding staircases. I won't do the story justice, since it has many manifestations and versions, but one of them is about one brother sneaking up the stairs and murdering another brother while he was saying Mass. Another story has to do with one clan inviting another clan to a feast in the chapel and then murdering them all. Some versions have it as the castle owner inviting the workmen to whom he owed money. Either way, there have been many deaths associated with this chapel. But by far the worst of them is the Oubliette (pronounced oo-bli-ette). This term, I'm told, is actually French for "place of forgetting". It's basically a small dungeon-like hole into which one's enemies are thrown to starve away and die, and to be left there afterwards, since it is so small and difficult to get into and out of that it's easiest just to leave the bodies there, piled up year after year. A History Channel documentary I saw on this castle told how in the early 1900's workmen were carting out wheelbarrows full of bones from this Oubliette to clean it up, and came across a pocket watch from the 1800's, meaning it was in use far later than was previously thought. I asked the current owner about the pocket watch story. He had heard of it, but it was before his time and couldn't verify it.
Here are pictures of the Oubliette. It's basically a niche in the side of a big window. The bottom of the niche has a hole that leads to the pit below. Considering this chapel is on the top floor, the people in this pit were actually inside the roof and wall of the floor below. I wonder if they ever heard them screaming through the walls.
It looks like there are chairs below for some reason, I don't know why.
Now for the orbs. For those uninitiated into the art of ghost hunting (or if you haven't seen those "documentaries" on the History Channel), an orb is the photographic equivalent of a ghost. When these small, whitish, balls show up in a photo, it MIGHT be a ghost, according to ghost aficionados. An alternate theory states that dust in the air close to the camera is reflecting the light of the flash, and since the focus is much further out all you see is a round, white thing. Here's a pro and con of this. On the one hand, this castle was very dusty, especially the chapel. On the other, I took pictures in a dozen other musty, old castles, and no orbs showed up in those pictures. You be the judge.
There were many other ghost stories, some about two little girls who haunt the place, one about a maid or governess. All three of these ghost are sometimes seen together even though they supposedly died at different time periods.
One last little tale is that of an "elemental". This creepy little thing was seen by a former resident on an upstairs balcony. As she looked over the balcony she turned around and saw it. About the size of a sheep, small, and hideous, it apparently has a face that is half human which adds to it's grotesqueness. The smell is like death or the grave or decaying flesh.
I saw no spirits there myself, but if you are interested, a quick internet search will show abundant legends about the place.
Here are some pictures I took around the castle. In the years since I first wrote this article, I have seen these pictures of mine show up all over the internet. When you do an image search of Leap Castle Orbs or Oubliette, many of the pictures you see will be mine.
See if you can spot the orbs in these photos.