Construction & Remodelling

The exact date of the Leap Castles construction is unknown but it is thought to have been built by the O’Bannon clan before the year 1514.

The Castle has been subject to much rebuilding and remodelling throughout its turbulent history. 

 In 1516 Gerald Fitzgerald attempted to once again siege Leap Castle, having failed three years earlier. 

A canon hit partially demolished the south-western wall, consequently destroying part of the main stairway.  The stairway was then rebuilt within a great block of masonry further inside the tower.

A bartizan was added on the north-western side of the tower, specifically designed for gun warfare.  The exact date of the construction is unknown. 

The Priest’s House is believed to have been built around 1571.  Timber from an original fireplace has been dendrochronologically dated to this approximate time.

In 1753 the towerhouse underwent extensive remodelling and expansion by the Darbys.  Firstly the entrance to the castle, originally from the south was changed.  A large gothic entrance door was added to the western wall.  The floor height was raised and several levels beneath the stone vault were removed.  The ground floor entrance to the spiral staircase was also blocked up.  To enhance the new orientation, twin wings were added to the north and south.  It was during this period of remodelling that the Priest’s House also received a Gothicised redressing to maintain the style of the new wings.  The remodelling continued in later years with the additional of another door on the eastern wall which opened onto a small terrace.        

Mildred Darby started to become curious about the hidden areas of the tower.  It was in 1896 that the guardroom in the south-east corner was uncovered. 

It is rumoured that the location of the guard room was discovered upon removal of lichen from the castles eastern wall.  The small window to the guard room was noticed and it was then that excavation begun.

The ground floor entrance to the spiral staircase was discovered in the following year 1897.  The staircase was choked with rubbish and dust from years of neglect.  Mildred Darby revealed that her husband’s father had also tried to find the entrance to the staircase.   Upon removal of part of a wall, they had discovered a skeleton that had been walled up.  The excavations went no further, the remains being cemented back into the wall.   

In 1974-1989 the Gatehouse was rebuilt by Peter Bartlett and friend Joe Sullivan.  The preliminary rebuilding of the upper floors was also started.

1991-2010  Much rebuilding has been completed by the current owners Sean Ryan and Anne Callanan-Ryan

The vaulted brickwork in the cellars has been rebuilt.

The south wing is 75% completed.  This includes the kitchen on the eastern side at ground level and the bathroom and sleeping quarters on the upper level.  The ground floor flagstones have been laid in the main entrance hall.

The upper hall flooring has been rebuilt with the addition of the minstrel’s gallery.

The chamber in the North-Eastern corner of the Tower has been opened  during the 1990’s.

The smokeroom has also had the floor rebuilt.

Preliminary flooring has been constructed for the north wing.

See 3D Rendering for more information

14 Responses to “Construction & Remodelling”

  • Maddie:

    Hey Nic,
    This website is awesome! Looking forward to the updates.
    xx Mads

  • Earleen O'Bannon Burch:

    The current owner, Sean Ryan, confirms our understanding that the O’Bannons were the ones who built Leap Castle. They were not a ruling clan, but were builders in the area. Three O’Bannon sisters and myself visited Leap Castle in July, 2006.

  • leapcast:

    Earleen,
    You are quite correct.
    Leap Castle was built by the O’Bannons, hence the original name “Leim Ui Bhanain” – Leap of the O’Bannons.
    I have ammended the information to make this a little clearer.
    Thank you for your comment!

  • I am hoping to come and see this one day as I have been researching family history… It is a very interesting history to say the least.

  • cian:

    wow this is really close to my town

  • Silver Fang:

    1514? Isn’t Leap Castle over 1,000 years old?

  • Brian Robert D'Esterre O'Carroll Darby:

    My father is Christopher Henry d’Esterre O’Carroll Darby, supposedly the first Darby not born in Leap. He emigrated to the USA in the early 1960’s, married my mother Kathleen(an American)and I was born in 1965. My brother, Kevin Horatio Martin O’Carroll came along in 1966.
    My grandparents were Horatio Gordon O’Carroll Darby and Celia Margaret Philips Darby.
    Children of Christopher Henry D’Esterre O’Carroll Darby and Kathleen Roberta Parker
    Brian Robert D’Esterre O’Carroll Darby born 10 Apr 1965
    Kevin Horatio Martin O’Carroll Darby born 7 Sep 1966
    I have heard so much about Leap growing up.

  • Superb, what a blog it is! This web site gives useful information
    to us, keep it up.

  • VIKKI HAYES:

    I am coming to Ireland with my niece soon and have always been fascinated by the stories of this beautiful castle. wonderful website. I cant wait to see it and the land I came from.

  • charles darby:

    Hello everyone. My name is charles Donald henry darby. My father is kevin horatio Martin o’carroll darby. I am trying to get in contact with my grandfather christopher henry d’esterre o’carroll darby. He lives somewhere in cairns Australia. If anybody has contact with him please let him know I am trying to get a hold of him. My email address is chddarby@yahoo.com. and my phone number is 9047708660. Please please give these to him if anyone that has contact with him.

  • leapcast:

    Hey there Charles,

    I am situated in Australia so I will have a look for you and let you know.

    Kind regards,

    Nic

  • leapcast:

    Hi again Charles,
    Here is a comment posted on the ‘Construction and Remodelling page.
    Perhaps you know each other?

    Brian Robert D’Esterre O’Carroll Darby:
    April 29, 2012 at 6:53 AM (Edit)
    My father is Christopher Henry d’Esterre O’Carroll Darby, supposedly the first Darby not born in Leap. He emigrated to the USA in the early 1960?s, married my mother Kathleen(an American)and I was born in 1965. My brother, Kevin Horatio Martin O’Carroll came along in 1966.
    My grandparents were Horatio Gordon O’Carroll Darby and Celia Margaret Philips Darby.
    Children of Christopher Henry D’Esterre O’Carroll Darby and Kathleen Roberta Parker
    Brian Robert D’Esterre O’Carroll Darby born 10 Apr 1965
    Kevin Horatio Martin O’Carroll Darby born 7 Sep 1966
    I have heard so much about Leap growing up.

  • Steven Carroll:

    In recent years, I have been searching my history as a Carroll, there has always been a blank space that needs to be discovered in my heritage, maybe this is the start of that discovery.

    Steven Carroll

  • Joseph Carroll:

    I have been able to trace my lineage back to the early 1700’s here in America. I believe that’s about when my family came here. Several of my ancestors fought in the American Revolution. My wife and I are planning a trip to Ireland next year. Look forward to seeing the castle.

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