In County Offaly stands an impregnable fortress, reportedly the most haunted castle in Ireland: Leap Castle. It was built to guard the pass from Sleive Bloom to Munster.
Built in the 15th century, allegedly over an ancient Druidic site, it was originally called ‘Léim Uí Bhanáin’ meaning ‘Leap of the O’Bannons’. The O’Bannon family were secondary chieftains in the area, directly under the O’Carroll family. By the mid-16th century, the ruling family O’Carrolls had taken possession of the castle. The O’Carrolls were the Princes of Ely who thought little of murdering people who got in their way.
Following the death of Mulrooney O’Carroll in 1532, fighting began over who would lead the family. The fighting came down to two brothers – one of whom was a priest. One day when the priest was leading the rest of the family in solemn service, his brother Teige O’Carroll, burst into the chapel and murdered the priest in front of the rest of the family. The chapel has since been referred to as the Bloody Chapel. This heinous act of fratricide in such a sacred place brought misery to the family and the castle.
Later renovations of the castle revealed a hidden oubliette (a dungeon with an opening only at the top) in the floor. Prisoners were often pushed through the hole in the chapel floor only to land on a spike at the bottom. Those who didn’t die instantly were starved to death.
The thing that brings fear into the hearts of even the most hardened souls is It. It is an elemental spirit who allegedly appeared after a psychic disturbance. Visitors know they’ve encountered It when the smell of death and sulfur fills the air around them. Those who see It say It resembles a 4 foot tall humanoid with empty eye sockets. Others have even reported It having the head of a sheep.