One of the longest continually inhabited Castles in Ireland, Leap Castle has a rich and fascinating history.  Leap Castle is thought to have been built in the early 1500’s by the O’Bannon clan.   The O’Bannon clan were the secondary chieftains under the ruling of the O’Carroll clan.  The current building is thought to have been built over an earlier castle.  Before that the site  was used by Druids for initiation ceremonies.   The castle has been home to much bloodshed and violence over the centuries. 

Originally named Leim Ui Bhanain meaning ‘Leap of the O’Bannons’.  Legend has it that two O’Bannon brothers were contesting the chieftainship of their clan.   The only way to settle this argument was a display of strength and bravery. They were to both jump off the rocky outcrop where the castle was to be built. The survivor won the honour and right to be Chieftain.  Thus the castle was built, fueled by blood and death.  

Leap Castle was used as a principle stronghold of the O’Carroll clan.  It was used to guard the pass through the Slieve Bloom Mountains and has been said that no castle was more well fortified than Leap.   The O’Carrolls were a fierce and brutal people, bent on domination.  They were known for their ruthless tactics, often killing others and each other on the path to supremacy.  The O’Carolls called Leap Castle their home until it was wrenched from their hands in 1642 by an English soldier of the Cromwellian forces named John Darby.  

The castle has been subject to much remodelling and restoration over the years, most of the remodelling having been done by the Darbys.  The Darbys inhabited Leap Castle from 1642 until it’s buring in 1922.  Unfortunately Leap Castle was the target for an uprising and was looted and burnt to an emtpy shell in 1922.  Here it lay dormant until it was purchased in 1974 by an Australian, Peter Bartlett.  This saw the awaking of the ancient building. The work is now being continued by current owners, the Ryans.

42 Responses to “History”

  • Pat Chapman:

    My granda4d was Richard Dawkins. My mum is tne baby mentioned. she will be 90 in May 2011

  • Not bad history>But TAPS seyed something about Elemental why in the history don’t say nothung obout him.

  • Not bad history But TAPS seyed something about Elemental why in the history don’t say nothung obout him.

  • leapcast:

    The Elemental has had a long history at Leap Castle.
    There have been many references to It from before the Darby’s time at Leap.

  • Dear Ryan Family,

    I have a website that focuses on myths, legends and history from the UK and heard about your amazing castle from a friend. I would love to post a story on my website and include a small interview from you if you would be happy to help.

    If you wouldn’t mind me emailing you some questions please drop me a note on my email, kat.thomas99@gmail.com, I really do appreciate any help you would be able give.

  • chester:

    Taps said it was built around 800 AD but it says 1500AD on the site

  • David:

    I think what chester is trying to say is that taps said that the castle was built around 800Ad in season 3 episode 6
    but the website says around 1500AD

  • I just wanted to thank you for the info you have presented. I found it very interesting and enjoyed
    entertaining the thought that I just might be related to this piece of the past.
    Thanks again
    Teresa O’Bannon

  • trevor bannon:

    what was the names of the two o bannon brothhers?

  • sarah d:

    Just watched ghost hunters about leap castle it scared the b’jesus outta me!!

  • Jade S:

    I’m watching Ghost Hunters right now pertaining to Leap Castle. I will honestly say, just a bit spooked but I definitely agree with the haunting of this castle.

  • Michaela:

    thank you very much for the information! I am a direct descendant of John Darby and i would love love love to come and see the castle some day ^^

  • Sydney L:

    I am watching Ghost Hunters and it ended up to be the one about Leap Castle. It looks very creepy including someone being pushed over by the Elemental. I believe in this haunting.

  • f.michael quint:

    When a lot of bloodshed occurs in a certain place,being a strip of land or a building such as this is ,all of that negitive emotion tends to heap upon itself and actually will manifest its own entity. Firstly ,it will be more beneign than anything else. But the more suffering that occurs in its presence, it will surely become more and more malignant. Hearing that there is an ubeuliet on location there’s no wonder it sometimes makes its presence known here and there. Since the family that resides there now are a kind and loving people ,fixing the castle to its former glory. People will see less and less of it untill one day it just disperses.

  • f.michael quint:

    Any more questions,concerns; Feel free to ask and I will try to help. I will check back as often as I can.

  • leapcast:

    Great contribution Michael, it is most welcome.
    I agree with your thoughts about the compounded energy that exists at Leap. It is built on Ley Lines and is also the previous site of a Druid initiation circle. There is a lot of energy boiling up and around Leap.
    I disagree about the Elemental however. Most of the spirits inhabit a different version of space/time. In this way time passes differently; if at all. The Elemental will always be a part of the fabric of Leap because that is just how these things work. It may have periods(like now)of non activity but IT will always make itself known when it needs to. I have encountered the Elemental on my first visit to Leap. The next time I did not.

  • Katievic:

    I am going to be in Ireland Sept 2012 and will be taking a detour to see Leap Castle. I read somewhere that they sometimes give tours for a price but also read that they don’t. Not sure what to believe but I am still going to drive to it just to take pics.

  • f.michael quint:

    Hello again, and yes I do agree with you. Upon further research , I did learn that with an elemental of that strength of negative energy ,you certainly will not remove or even diminish its level of power at all, for it is its own being, with its own agenda that no one could even possibly think of controling. What I am wondering is if it is still feeding off of the negative energy of events long ago , since it can exist in both this dimension that we are presently part of , and of the one that it first came into being long ago. You had mentioned that dual dimensional existence.

  • f.michael quint:

    My question is , does it continuously feed off the negative events of the past (like a tape looped over and over) , kind of like the past existing at the same time in the present time .( I really hope this can be understood by all who read this as well as I understand this in my own head and isn’t to muddled a concept). Hence the reason it is still around but is seen only occasionaly and not nearly as often . Besides the fact that there are no longer any horrible acts commited on the property any more . I am curious if there are any telltale signs that may appear before the elemental decides to show itself ,or does it just materialize without any warning at all.

  • leapcast:

    The Elemental can feed off both past and present energies; linear time is not relevant to spirits. The Elemental is a guardian of Leap and only causes problems to people who it perceives is a threat. My only encounter with the Elemental to date occurred in the presence of another who had previously been attacked.
    There are mentions of the ‘Leap Ghost’ before Mildred Darby. It is very old and has been around since before the castle’s construction.

    There is several telltale signs that the Elemental is manifesting.
    1. The atmospheric pressure drops. (This occurs in a 5 mile radius around the castle grounds).
    2. The air feels tingly and you may notice your hair standing up.
    3. A sulphur like smell is noticed. (It smelt like burnt matches to me).

  • joanna cotter:

    I would like to know where I could get the full history behind Leap Castle.

  • leapcast:


    Thank you for your interest. It is one of my life’s work to compile the history of this amazing castle. There is no other place with this level of detail, I assure you!

  • Ciara Callanan Ryan:

    Hey Leapcast,

    This is cool! I never knew this page existed! I live in Leap Castle! It so cool to see the interest that everyone has in the place! My Dad has done so much research and loves restoring the building! I’ll definetly check in here on a more regular basis! 🙂


  • Ciara Callanan Ryan:

    Oh it’s Nic! Haha! Just realised after I left the comment!! This is cool! 🙂

  • Paula Lilly:

    I’m so glad to find this. I have researched my family tree and found out that my great great well ancesestor is Brien Boru O’Bannon. During my research I came across Leap Castle and my ancestor, although this all fascinates me I am so amazed to find this. My grandmother who passed when I was a teenager always referred to our ancestors and special people from Ireland I never gave much thought to it then I am now amazed to find this out. I would love to one day to visit Ireland and at least drive by the castle and just to take in the site of this place. I hope to learn more about this place.

    From one who is amazed by this place.

  • Kimberly:

    I am bringing my teenagers over from April 11-19. Do you offer tours? (Any at night to make it extra spooky?)
    Would love to scare the daylights out of them! 🙂

  • Cheryl O'Bannion Martz:

    I will be leaving on Sunday from Michigan for a trip to Ireland and so hope to visit Leap Castle . . . and perhaps learn a bit more about my ancestors. I do so like the idea of “my people” haunting a castle for all these colorful decades! You go, O’Bannions/O’Bannons!!!

  • Mike Smith:

    Thank you for the website about the castle. My great-grandmother was an O’Bannon and I have always been interested in researching my Irish heritage.

  • Linda Conaway~Crist:

    I am a descendant of the O Carroll clan who were the original residents of Leap Castle long before the Darby’s overtook it from them, and find this page most interesting!It is on the top of my’bucket list’ to one day be fortunate enough to be able to travel there and see ‘the old homestead’ of my ancestors! Sincerely, Linda Conaway~Crist Saratoga Springs New York, USA

  • John Anthony:

    Leap castles exact origin is not known, nor the exact meaning of its name, Leim Ui Bhanain, or Leap of O’Bannon. In all probability it had been built in the 14th or 15th century on the site of an earlier fortification as a tower house, with additions and alterations later. The connection between the Darby family in Ireland began in the 16th century when a John Darby, son of Edmund Darby, served under the Earl of Sussexx as a captain of horse in his campaigns there, either in the year 1557 or 1559. The earl besieged the castle of Leap belonging to the family of the O’Carroll’s of Eile in the part of Ireland later known as “Kings County” but today as Offaly.
    During one of the attacks on the castle John Darby was captured and held prisoner in the castle in a room measuring 4 x 7′. Food was passed to him through a hole in the wall. This was the duty of O’Carroll’s young and beautiful daughter Finola, and in the expected romantic tradition they fell in love with each other. When Finola discovered that her father plan to hang John Darby she helped him to escape by unbarring his door. As Darby was racing down the stone stairs to expected freedom he was confronted by Finola’s brother, Who sounded an alarm. Darby turned and ran back up and out onto the battlements. From there he jumped into the branches of the large Yew tree and escaped. The siege of Leap castle continued and ended in it’s finally being taken by the English forces. John Darby later married Finola O’Carroll, the heiress of the castle, and through her acquired a part of the Leap estate. The greater part of the estate remained in the possession of its Irish proprietor. John Darby died in 1608. The Irish portion of Leap was later confiscated for the use of the English king James I (1603-1625), but the Darby Part remained in the Darby family. In the rule of Charles II (1660-1685) The confiscated portion was sold to a certain John Holland. The Darbys later bought this part from him and so the entire leap estate passed into Darby hands.

  • Cathy LaRue:

    It was so nice to see something about the castle. We have researched to for a long time, and have traced it back to my family. My grandfather was Frances O’Bannon.
    Thank you co much.

  • Barbara O'Carroll Lynch:

    I am a direct descendant of this O’Carroll clan and find the history of Leap Castle so
    intriguing, not to mention the discovery of the brutality of my ancestors. It has such a
    dark history but is now owned as I understand, by a family who choose to bring more light
    and happiness to it.

  • Eleen Bannon:

    So fascinating to read about the castle and comments. I am a Bannon and Darby, so these historical facts are so important to read about my ancestry.

  • Ana:

    I saw a video of Leap Castle and it’s history. It’s cool and all but the Elemental is sorda creepy. I don’t mind watching videos about it but I sure don’t think I wanna come face to face with it. Just my honest opinion. And the Elemental looks like he’s half animal half human. :O

  • Barbara Kelley:

    My grandmother Ola Jane O’Bannon is a descendant of the O’Bannon clan that built the O’Bannon castle. I would love to know more about that time and the O’Bannon brothers and their family my descendants. I wish i had the resources to visit Ireland and the castle site, to feel the comfort of being in my home land once in my life time. BK

  • I’m a descendant of the O’Bannon Castle my grandmother Ola Jane O’Bannon. Id love to see it some day, i hope some day i will have the resources to go to Ireland for a visit, to feel the well being of being home, bk

  • JoAnn Darby:

    I am a direct descendant to the Darbys. Love the history, thank you for publishing this. Now to continue to find the rest of the family. Thanks again for this!!

  • Karen Fitzgerald:

    I’m a direct descendant of the O’Bannon clan from before the O’Carroll’s took as chieftains, I find the history of this so very facinating and one day would love to visit the castle. By the way, it’s reported that the O’Bannon’s built the old north tower of the castle.

  • leapcast:

    Thanks for your comment!
    By the North tower are you referring to the main tower house?

  • Dominique:

    I am an O’Carroll descendant and am coming to Ireland for my honeymoon to trace some family roots. My fiancé is from Kinbane Castle so we are going there. It would be remarkably special to be able to see Leap if even for a moment. Is this possible to arrange? Thank you!!

  • Joan Haggerty:

    My Grandmother was Agnes O’carroll. She came to the US when she was 16 and was from Turlough of County Mayo. The McHugh’s now live where she once did.

  • Brayden O'Carroll:

    I am a direct descendant of the O’Carroll clan and I am very curious of my family history. It is on my list to come visit the place of my ancestors as I think it will be very cool. I have heard a lot by just word of mouth from my family and this makes me even more curious.

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