Monday, October 6, 2008

Haunted Castles - Leap Castle

We're into October and of course at the end of the month is Halloween. In the run up to Halloween we're going to run a series of features on haunted castles. Here is our first - about haunted castles in Ireland.

Ireland has a long and eventful history and, in some ways, it is similar to that of Scotland. For centuries, warring clans dominated Irish history and today, much of Irish folkore and legend is based upon events from those dark times.

With territory being highly valued and much fought over, it's not surprising that Ireland has many medieval (and even pre-medieval) castles and with so much blood shed between chieftains and their clans, it's logical to assume that some of these castles might be haunted. There are a number reputedly haunted castles in Ireland but perhaps the most famous - and allegedly most haunted - is Leap Castle.

Leap Castle was built on top of an ancient rock close to Birr, a town in County Offaly. It was built for strategic reasons and is not in fact a 'medieval' castle - technically it's pre-medieval, having been built as far back as 800 AD, over 250 years before the Battle of Hastings! For anyone interested in this particular part of British history, there's a great Battle of Hastings Game courtesy of the BBC where you can opt to play the part of William or Harold.

At the time of its construction the castle was actually called "Leim ui Bhanain," or "Leap of the O'Bannons as it was the O'Bannon family who lived there. The family held considerable power in the area but were only "secondary chieftains" to the ruling clan of O'Carroll.

Leap Castle has a unique and bloody history and the claim by some that it is the most haunted castle in Ireland is based on the savage warring that took place between rival clans. Read more about the history behind haunted Leap Castle.

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