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Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 - Haunted Illinois goes on a supernatural tour of Ireland

Day 6:

Around 10am, we all met Richard near the castle steps and walked down a dirt path, to a wooded area behind the castle. In a clearing near a babbling brook stood an old Irish cottage and a circular group of stones that were standing upright. From what Richard told us, there were remnants left behind from when the Druids occupied the land, early in history. The stones were originally placed there to act as sacred ritual markers for the Druids, who believed that the spot had powerful Ley lines that connected it with other sacred sites.

After returning to the bus, Danny told us about an experience he had in Geraldine’s room. The previous night, he had a séance in the room with Debe and some others, but nothing of significance happened. Something strange did happen in the morning, though. While Danny was packing his suitcase, a bird flew in through the open bathroom window. Acting quickly, he tried to take a picture of it, but before he could get his camera the bird had already flown back outside.

Kinnitty Castle

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On The Road In Ireland

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Our next stop on the tour was one of my personal favorites, Leap Castle in County Offaly. The castle site has a very interesting history. In earlier times, the land had been used by the Druids for initiation ceremonies. A castle was later built on the property, but that isn’t the same structure that you see today. In the early 1500’s, the O’Bannon Clan built the current castle on the very site where the previous castle was once stood. By some, it has been called the world’s most haunted location. Along with the castle’s violent history, there may be another reason why this particular site has such a haunted reputation. Because the land underneath the castle is at the intersection point of two Ley Lines, the Druids believed that the property had a lot of spiritual energy.

Local folklore suggests that the name of the castle may have come from an event that occurred during its turbulent past. It was originally called “Leim Ui Bhanain”, meaning “Leap of the O’Bannons”. The O’Carrolls, a war-like clan, attempted to seize the land and the O’Bannons refused to pay tribute. In response, the O’Carrolls offered them a physical challenge. On the land, there were two large rocky outcrops. If the O’Bannons’ strongest man could leap between the two rock formations, the tribute would be excused forever. If he failed, they must accept the O’Carrolls as their lords. They accepted the challenge, but unfortunately their champion failed to make the jump and fell to his death. After that, the O’Carrolls turned on them and killed most of the O’Bannon’s best men.

Left unchallenged, the O’Carroll clan controlled the land for many years. That reign didn’t last forever, though. In 1642, the estate was taken from them by English soldiers led by John Darby. From that point forward, the Darbys inhabited the castle for nearly 300 years. During that time, a lot of remodeling and restoration was done, but sadly the castle was burned in the uprising of 1922. After the fire, the castle remained unoccupied until 1974, when it was purchased by Peter Bartlet. In 1991, Sean Ryan bought the property and has been remodeling it ever since.

After we arrived at the castle, Sean Ryan graciously welcomed us into his home. He started off by remarking “All I can say is that there are many spirits in the house… We know something about a lot of them. We know a lot about some of them and some of them, we don’t know anything about, except that we’ve experienced them.”   He was a charming man and a great story teller. He went into great detail, speaking with us for more than 30 minutes about several supernatural events that he had observed over the years.

Not only had he seen some unexplainable things, his family had also been witness to supernatural events. About ten years ago, Sean’s daughter had the sensation of someone poking her in the back with their finger. This happened a few times, but they could never explain it. It is an old Irish custom to poke someone as a sign of encouragement or acknowledgement that they are doing well. It is very similar to the American custom of patting someone on the back. He saw his daughter’s experience as a positive one. In fact, in the entire time they have lived there, no one has ever been scared or felt threatened. The family just accepts that these entities are there.

One of the most common supernatural occurrences at Leap Castle is the vision of two little girls playing. As far as Sean could determine, they are the spirits of two girls who used to live at Leap Castle in the early 1600’s. Their last names are not known, but their first names were Charlotte and Emily. According to Sean, Emily appears to be about 11 and Charlotte is only 6 or 7. Charlotte has a badly deformed right leg and she often hobbles around after Emily. To this day, they can still be seen playing together in various rooms of the castle. In the numerous times they have appeared, they simply continue what they are doing, seemingly unaware of anyone else around them. According to historical record, Emily’s life came to a sad end. She fell off the top of the castle, to her death. There have been many times that Sean and his wife have heard the sound of a child screaming. They believe that it’s the sound of Emily falling.

Another one of the prominent sightings is the ghost of an old man sitting in a chair, near the dining room table. Sean described him as “quite skeletal” and when he is seen, only his upper torso is visible. He often appears to be looking out the window, not aware of anyone or anything that is around him.

All of these supernatural occurrences have generated a lot of interest from various paranormal groups. They have travelled from all over the world, to visit Leap Castle. There was one paranormal group that came from the United States to conduct an overnight investigation. They had heard about the sightings of the ghostly children, so they brought a teddy bear and propped it up in a chair, in the living room. Nearby, they set up a video camera and let it record all evening, while they continued their investigation upstairs. When the video footage was checked the next day, they saw a large orb. There was also some sort of translucent object that moved across the frame, briefly obstructing the view of the stuffed animal.

Leap Castle

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Sean Ryan - Sean Ryan tells us about the supernatural events witnessed at Leap Castle.
Sean Ryan

Sean Ryan - Sean Ryan plays the tin flute.
Sean Ryan

Jen and I - Jen and I at Leap Castle.
Jen and I

After our interesting discussion concluded, Sean was kind enough to let us explore his home and take all the pictures that we wanted. He even let us invade his living space. The first place that most of us went was upstairs, where the ghost girls were first seen.

After exploring many different areas of the castle, we all met downstairs for a real treat. Sean Ryan had graciously agreed to play a couple of songs for us. He is an accomplished tin flute player, known the world over, so it was an honor to have him play for us. After the mini-concert was over, many of us (myself included) jumped at the chance to buy one of his music CDs.

Sean Ryan Performs (Part 1 of 2)

Sean Ryan Performs (Part 2 of 2)

On The Road In Ireland

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Our next stop was supposed to be Bunratty Castle in County Clare. Unfortunately we were a little behind schedule, because of the amount of time we spent at Leap Castle. When we got to Bunratty, everyone got off the bus and Kelley walked over to the castle, to get our tickets. While we were waiting outside, we were hit by an unexpected downpour that sent everyone running for cover. The nearest dry place just happened to be an Irish pub called Durty Nelly’s, which was conveniently located, right across the street from the castle.

Since we had some time on our hands, we ordered a couple of drinks while we waited. When Kelley got back with the tickets, it was about 3pm. Unfortunately, the castle was only open until 4pm. Seriously?!? Who closes a popular tourist attraction at 4pm on a Friday afternoon? Anyway, instead of going back to the castle, where we would have had to rush around to see everything there was to see, we stayed at Durty Nelly’s and had a late lunch. After we ate, there was just enough time left to hit a shop or two, before we had to return to the bus.

Bunratty Castle / Durty Nelly's

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Our next stop was the Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin and we got a nice surprise on the way there. It was a bit stormy the entire way and there seemed to be an endless supply of rainbows in every direction… bright rainbows. In fact, they were some of the boldest and most brilliant rainbows I had ever seen in my entire life. As we travelled down the road, they seemed to fade in and out and in some cases disappear and reappear. It was spectacular! The pictures I took really don’t do them justice, I assure you! You just had to be there.

When we arrived in Dublin, Daithi took a couple of short detours, to show us some prominent historical sites around the city. It was fairly late, by the time that we got to the hotel. Unfortunately, we had trouble at the registration desk. Apparently, the hotel had everyone else’s reservation except ours. The hotel staff checked their computer and neither Jen nor I were listed in their reservation log. The issue was taken care of, though. Kelley and Danny promptly stepped in and they were able to get us a room.

Before we all went up to our rooms, Richard Felix reminded us that there was a Dublin walking ghost tour still scheduled for 10pm. It sounded like a lot of fun and we hated to miss out, but we were both we exhausted, after such a long day. All we wanted to do was relax and at that point, being on our feet for that long didn’t sound very appealing.

Before retiring for the night, we decided to stop in the hotel bar to have a drink and see what food options were available. Their kitchen was closed, so I called and ordered a pizza from a local Pizza Hut. It was delivered on a scooter and when we opened the box, the entire pizza was smashed into one end of the box (see picture below). That didn’t matter, though. It was food and we were famished.

On The Road In Ireland

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Tollbooth at the end of the rainbow - What is at the end of the rainbow?  The pot of (gold) coins at the tollbooth, of course!
Tollbooth at the end of the rainbow
One of the many double rainbows we saw that afternoon.
Complete rainbow, from end to end.

Our pizza that was delivered with care, on a scooter.
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