The O’Bannon’s were subject to the ruling O’Carroll clan. It is recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters that in the early sixteenth century the Earl of Kildare, Gerald Fitzgerald attempted to seize the castle but was beaten back by the O’Carroll’s. Around the same time a fierce and bitter battle for succession ensued amongst the O’Carroll’s which turned them against one another. One brother murdered another, who was a priest, in what has since become known as the ‘Bloody Chapel’ while he was conducting a ceremony. Another source of evil which may have contributed to the present existence of spirits was discovered in the late nineteenth century. It was an oubliette, a dungeon that is only accessible from a high one square meter hatch in the ceiling, that had spikes placed at the bottom of the shaft from which prisoners were flung onto. If they were not killed instantly they were left gored upon the spikes, until dead from their wounds, but not before suffering from dehydration. It took several workers several days, over three cartloads to carry out all the human bones still at the bottom of the shaft. Many other bones had been neatly stacked against the outer walls of the dungeon. It is because of this bloody history, that the castle had gained the reputation of being one of the most haunted locations in Ireland, as well as Europe. The castle was eventually gutted by a fire of unknown origin and boarded up by the locals living in the vicinity, who then completely avoided going anywhere near the castle. In 1659, the castle passed into the ownership of the Darby family, of which many bearing the Darby name, became the High Sheriff’s of King’s County (present day, County Offaly). In the late 1800s, Mildred Darby had become involved with the occult and believed responsible for releasing one of the most vile, evil and disturbing of spirits, thought to be an elemental. It has been reported that trespassers have been kept at bay at the castle, by an apparition of a small hunched figure seen lurking about the chapel and dungeon. Often accompanied by the stench of rotten flesh and of sulphur, it has sent many running from the premises. The castle was sold in the 1970s to an Australian, Sean Ryan, who attempted to have it exorcised, with no success. Although the exorcist insists the spirit is no longer be malevolent. As Sean has since had several suspicious incidents occur since then, and long after he the castle restoration work had begun, and is not entirely convinced.
This account is reference to a letter sent by Mildred Darby to Sydney Carroll. 28 Nov 1915.“The last appearances of the Elemental were on Nov 25th 1915 and I deduce again last November from the gait of my husband really wild with rage, or perhaps fright? Coming into my room at Midnight it flew into me again, "dressing up things to try and frighten me." On the 25th Nov 1915, two of our servants knowing the ‘master’ would be out late and that I was driving that afternoon had invited ‘friends,’ two soldiers from the Barracks at Birr, distant to the other side of 6 miles. They came rather late and my husband came home early so the visitors had to be kept out of his sight in the lower regions of the castle, in one of the wings (of the Priests House) and we were unable to show them the center tower – the very lofty hall. At 7.15 my husband and I went up to dress for dinner, my room was in extremity of the house from kitchens, his dressing room next door to mine. Whilst dressing I was startled by a loud yell of a terror stricken male and female voices apparently coming from the hall – and I ran out to see the cause. My husband was out first, well ahead of me. I at his heels passed through the corridor wing and onto the gallery wing that surrounds two sides of tall hall. Two lamps on the gallery and two more in hall below. It was on the gallery, leaning with ‘hands’ resting on the rail I saw the Thing - and smelt it only too well. At the same moment my husband pulled up sharply about 10 feet from the Thing, and half turning let fly a volley of abuses at me ending up "Dressing up a thing like that to try and make a fool of me. And now you'll say I've seen something and I have not seen anything and there is nothing to see, or ever was. This last speech without a pause, begun waving one hand at the Thing end up by stalking back to his dressing room still abusing me for trying to give him a fright. As he was speaking to the Elemental it grew fainter and fainter until it disappeared. By the sounds from my husband's room I judged he was employed as I was myself in preparing an empty spot for our coming dinner. He never made any inquiry as to the yell that called us both out, and from that day to this has not mentioned the incident to me. I heard from our servants that when we went to dress for dinner they had brought their friends just to show them the hall, when all four has suddenly seen ands melt the Elemental looking down at them from the gallery. We all got such a turn, we couldn't help letting out a bawl then fled to servants quarters where all 4 were very sick. The two maids had letters necessity their going home next day – and they did not return.”
A television cameraman describes his encounter with an unknown entity, presumed to be the same elemental, during the filming of a television documentary, 18 June 2002.“I traveled to Leap Castle in order to make a show for a local TV network and this was my first time in the notorious castle I had heard so much about. So the show went well but I wanted to try the UV on the camcorder whilst still shooting. I had sensed something down the old access to the battlements earlier and never went down. I climbed the stairs with the camcorder in front, the light from the UV allowed me to see about 6 ft ahead and no more so I climbed slowly. I opened the Gothic style door and made my way slowly down the narrow passage, about 10ft in I thought I saw something move and I lifted my head, I could feel something was wrong but I had no idea what. This time with the camera dropped I thought I saw a glow come from around the corner and then it went back in. I stood and studied this for a while and thought it may be a side effect of the UV which can be common, a few steps more and my body was weakening fast, it was a strange sensation. Suddenly this mass of white like mist raced around the corner like a bull, even the rubbish on the floor scattered as it approached at speed. The passage was tight and I turned to my left to try and get out but it was too late, I felt the pain as if something had just pierced under my right rib cage and went all the way through to the back. This startled me a little and we proceeded to arrange shooting in the cellars. he audio refused to tape again in the cellars and I felt really odd, I was sweating heavily and was becoming very weak and drowned in dread. Right after the incident in the tunnel it felt as if a hole in my chest had been punctured on a spiritual level and my life was seeping into the stones. In order to describe it and let the reader understand they would have had to experience a large blood loss sometime in their lives. As they felt the blood drain this weakness would become prominent, other words they were experiencing the onset of death……I was dying.”