Hallows’ Eve is a time of dress up, spooky stories and visits to buildings which have reputed hauntings attached to them. Here in County Offaly, we have two of the most haunted premises in the world which have been investigated by international paranormal teams and the scenes of TV series such as, The UK’s Most Haunted, Ghost Hunters International and Scariest Places on Earth with Linda Blair who was the original child actress in the Exorcist films.
Leap Castle – there are two main stories attached to this building. The first is the story of the Bloody Chapel which is the third floor of the building. It involves a feud between two brothers, Thaddeus and Tighe who were both in running for the leadership of the clan. Thaddeus, being a priest, was celebrating mass for the family one morning in the chapel. Arriving intentionally late, Tighe pretended to take huge offence that the mass had begun without him and slayed his brother on the altar.
The second story attached to Leap Castle, involves the sighting of what is believed to be a sinister demon known as an elemental. This demon is said to have the face of a man but the body of a goat and emanates the smell of rotting flesh. When Mildred Darby resided in the castle (1867 until it was burned down in 1922), she claimed that one night, when standing in the banqueting hall which is the second floor of the building. She wrote the following account:
“Suddenly, two hands were laid on my shoulders. I turned round sharply and saw, as clearly as I see you now-a grey ‘Thing’, standing a couple of feet from me, with its bent arms raised as if it were cursing me. I cannot describe in words how utterly awful the ‘Thing’ was, it’s very indefinableness rendering the horrible shadow more gruesome.
Charleville Castle – originally built as a “holiday residence” by the 1st Earl of Charleville, Charles William Bury and his friend at the time, the renowned architect, Francis Johnston. Both men were members of the Free Mason Society and dabbled in the occult. Charleville Castle is built on ley lines (magnetic strips that run underneath the Earth’s crust). In each of the towers, there is a cross of ley lines which can be demonstrated using a crystal or dowsing rods.
It would be impossible to mention all the spirit associated with the house but one of the main stories involves Lady Harriet Bury who was the daughter of the 3rd Earl of Charleville. On the 3rd of April 1861, she was sent to the nursery on the top floor to wash her hands. It is presumed she decided to slide the bannister on the way down but lost her balance and fell two storeys to the stone floor below. and died. She was just seven years old. Since that day, she has been seen, she has been heard, she has been photographed and there is a plethora of evidence of her presence in the house. She is not “trapped”, she comes and goes as she pleases, and she enjoys taking part in paranormal events and investigations.
One of the volunteers who was on duty one night and who had spent many nights over the years in the castle – was just about to fall asleep and BANG! He looked around to find the door to the room was wide open. He got up to close it, muttering to himself along the way, “it’s a breeze, it’s a breeze, it’s a breeze”. However, on the third BANG! he distinctly heard a child skipping away singing, “lah, lah, lah, lah”. He still volunteers at the castle and at events he is the first one on site, the last one to leave but when it comes to bedtime – he stays in one of the local B&Bs in Tullamore.
There are many active spirits at Charleville Castle and the Bury presence is still very much felt by volunteers, visitors and teams who come from all over the world to investigate. So, when taking off to some of the staged haunted events across the country this year – you may take the time to visit some of the haunted buildings in Offaly – IF YOU DARE!!!!!!!!!
Both castles are open for daily tours and public paranormal events can be found advertised through Spook Troop Tours and Offaly Enchanting Tours on Facebook. Have a Spooktacular Halloween everyone!