Friday, April 24, 2015

HGB Podcast, Ep. 42 - Leap Castle

Moment in Oddity - Murder Investigation Reveals Illegitimate Children

Recently, a modern day murder mystery revealed the indiscretion of a man and a woman. Yara Gambirasio was a thirteen year old girl who had been found murdered in a field in Italy in 2011. DNA was found on the body and Italian authorities decided to do a massive sweep and they collected thousands of samples of the DNA of local townspeople. Over 15,000 samples were collected and it was discovered that one of the samples had some DNA that matched. The authorities knew, based on testing, that the sample did not belong to the killer, but that one of his relatives must be the killer. His uncle, Guiseppe Guerinoni, was a match. The only problem was that Guiseppe had been dead eleven years. So they tested his three children who were not matches. Then the authorities heard the rumors that Guiseppe was quite the ladies man and as a bus driver, he had many opportunities to flirt and have affairs with women. 500 women were tested and Esther Arzuffi was a match. Imagine poor Esther having to explain to her husband that she not only had an affair, but that she was impregnanted by another man, giving birth to twins to boot. The twins were tested and Massimo Guiseppe (how nice she named him for his real father) Bossetti tested positive. He was charged with the murder of Yara in 2014. A murder investigation is certainly an odd way to find out your children are not biologically your children.

This Day in History - First Continuous Newspaper Published

On this day, April 24th, in 1704, the first continuous running newspaper in America publishes its first issue. That paper was the Boston News-Letter. The postmaster of Boston, John Campbell, was the first editor and the newspaper was published weekly. The paper was originally printed on the front and back of a half sheet of paper. Although the paper was located in Boston, most of the news was not local. English politics were covered as well as news from London. The biggest story to break at the time was the defeat and killing of Blackbeard the Pirate. Campbell turned operations over to the printer of the paper, Bartholomew Green, in 1722. Green began to run more stories that were about local happenings and when he died, his son, John Draper, took over the paper and improved it greatly. He expanded it to four pages that were bigger than half sheets and localized the news reporting even more. The front page was dedicated to news of London, but the rest of the paper was about Boston and the colonies. In the first issue, there was only one advertisement. Perhaps we should return to the ways of this early paper.

Leap Castle


Leap Castle in Ireland had it's beginnings in blood and death and is one of the longest continually inhabited castles in the world. Gothic windows and ivy covered towers give the castle a truly stereotypical look. The history contained within the castles walls is fascinating and covers centuries of war and fires. The best way to describe the history is as a murder soap opera. In more recent times, it has been under extensive restoration. Castles and rich histories go hand in hand with hauntings and Leap Castle has many stories of the supernatural and is considered the most haunted castle in the world. The most well known haunting is about the Elemental that apparently resides at the castle. Come along with us to Ireland to find out more about this interesting location.

The location upon which Leap Castle was built is thought to have been a place where Druid initiation ceremonies were conducted near the town of Roscrea. An earlier castle, that no longer exists, was built on the spot. Ireland is a country that used to be home to clans of people. Clans were similar to tribes in that there was much infighting between clans and wars for domination. The O'Carroll clan was one of the fiercest clans in Ireland. They ruled over Ireland and had a secondary chieftain clan under them named the O'Bannons. It was the O'Bannons that started the construction of Leap Castle and built the main tower. The Castle was named Leim Ui Bhanain, which translates to "Leap of the O'Bannons." The time of this construction is placed somewhere between the 13th and 15th centuries. John O'Carroll was Prince of Ely and it is thought that the O'Carroll clan also helped build the initial parts of Leap Castle. He lived there until his death from the Plague in the late 1400s.

John had a son with a reputation for being a great leader who was very brave. His name was Mulroney O'Carroll and he ruled from Leap Castle for forty-two years. In 1513, the castle was partially destroyed by the Earl of Kildare. Mulroney died in 1532 and was succeeded by his son Fearganhainm, who was ruthless. Legend has it that he killed a dinner guest once at the table. His rule was short lived. He was murdered in 1541 by the O'Mulloy clan. This launched a bitter rivalry between Fearganhaimm's three sons and the rest of the clan. Multiple murders would ensue beginning with Tiege the One Eyed. He had assumed control after his father was murdered and he then was murdered by his kinsman Charles O'Carroll. Retribution was dealt out by Tiege's younger brother William the Pale. He killed Charles and he was then leader. The O'Conor clan murdered William the Pale in 1581. William's son John took over the reigns. (At this point, we wonder why anybody would want to be supreme leader.) John was murdered by his cousin, the son of Tiege the One Eyed. John's brother Charles avenged him and he became Prince of Ely and was knighted in 1586. Charles was not a real great guy. He believed he could not trust some of his men, so when they came for payment he waited until they slept and took some of his trusted men and slew the others, which amounted to about 150 men. Charles found himself murdered in 1600 because of this act. Charles nephew, John O'Carroll was given ownership of Leap Castle in 1629, but he would give it to another clan, the Darbys, in 1649 as payment for services.

Jonathan Darby the 2nd was a Cromwellian soldier and he took over Leap Castle. There would be a line of Jonathan Darbys who would live at Leap Castle. Jonathan the 3rd was tried for treason and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered, but he was pardoned later. Jonathan the 5th was the last of the line to own Leap Castle. He had no children when he died in 1802, so the property was handed over to his brother Henry d'Esterre Darby. Henry also had no children, so Leap Castle was passed to his brother John Darby.

The Irish Civil War began in 1922 and during this time the castle was gutted by fire. Eleven raiders set fire to it in the early morning hours on July 30, 1922. At the time, a man named Richard Dawkins was the caretaker. He was held at gunpoint during the burning. He was given only twenty minutes to get out with his wife and child. It is believed the act was committed as retaliation for rents that were raised and the land being sold off around the castle. The rents had been raised to pay for extensions to the central keep. The castle fell into disrepair at this time and was boarded up. Dawkins saved as much of the furnishings as he could. He put the valuables in outbuildings, which were subsequently burglarized several times. The portion of the castle that was not burned during the first fire was burned in a second fire. Townspeople laughed at Dawkins when he asked for their help to save whatever valuables were left. In 1974, Peter Bartlett, an Australian historian, bought the castle and with the help of a builder, began restoration. Sean Ryan has owned Leap Castle since 1991 and has been renovating the castle.

The stories of hauntings at the castle are numerous. The castle is considered the most haunted castle in the world. One legend that has arisen that feeds the reason why malevolent spirits are felt at the castle comes from a story that occurred during the bloody rivalry of the O'Carroll clan. It is believed that one of the O'Carrolls was a priest. He was holding a mass at the chapel within the castle and one of his brothers came in during the mass and plunged a sword into him. Apparently, he was mad that his brother had started the mass before he arrived. Not only was this a vicious murder, but it happened during a holy ceremony. The chapel is now referred to as the Bloody Chapel. The Chapel is illuminated brightly at times and witnessed by many people. This started with the ownership by the Darbys and continues to this day with the Ryans. There is no reason for this illumination to be happening. The ghost of the slain priest is seen at times. He hangs out on the stairwell and is sometimes seen leaving the chapel.

Off the chapel is a dungeon that is really an oubliette. As we discussed on an earlier podcast, these were basically holes in the ground that people were thrown into. The O'Carrolls were sinister people and they installed spikes at the bottom of the floor. During renovations, three cartloads of bones were removed from the dungeon. The dungeon was then sealed, so that people could not access it anymore. The O'Carrolls also employed mercenaries to carry out some of the butchery on other clans. They would then invite the mercenaries back for a celebratory meal. That meal was poisoned. Whoever did not die from the poison had their throats cut or they were thrown into the dungeon. One of these clans was the MacMahons. They were murdered in their sleep in the castle. Their clan is believed to haunt the Great Hall at leap Castle. Recent owner Sean Ryan believes a male ghost lives in the oubliette.

During the times when the Darby family occupied the castle, they claimed the Priest's House was haunted. Mildred Darby recounts hauntings as such, "There is something heavy that lies on people’s beds, and snores, and they feel the weight of a great body pressing against them, in a room in the Priest’s House. A burly man, in rough clothes, like a peasant; he always pushes a heavy barrel up the back stairs of the wing, near the servants bedrooms, and when just at the top, the barrel rolls down and all disappears. A monk, with a tonsure and cowl walks in at one window and out another, in the Priest’s House."

Mildred also had an experience in the Muckle Hole Room. No one knows exactly where this room was originally located in the castle. Mildred wrote an article about an experience in the room and described it as thus, “I put my hand out of bed, snapping my fingers to call her Nell, (a terrier). My hand was suddenly in the grasp of another hand, a soft, cool hand, at a temperature perceptibly below my own flesh. To say I was astonished would but mildly convey my feelings! After a few seconds of steady pressure the other hand let go, and almost simultaneously I heard a heavy sliding fall, like the collapse of a large body at the foot of the bed. Then in the absolute stillness of the room there sounded a deep human groan, and some half-articulated words, or to be accurate, prayers. People have complained before-in fact; we don’t generally put any one there now. The room is called the Muckle or Murder Hole Room, and the story goes that the stain on the floor is the blood of a man stabbed there by his brother. Two O’Carrolls quarreled over the ownership of the castle. The room had been disused for 50 years or more when we did it up. The stain has been planed off the boards several times, but it always comes again-creeps up from below in a few hours”.

We have discussed many hauntings by a lady in white, but Leap Castle has a Red Lady. The story about her is tragic. Legend says that she was kidnapped by the O'Carroll clan and raped. She was impregnated as a result of the rape. When the baby was born, the O'Carrolls killed it. The distraught woman then killed herself. She is seen today as a sad apparition who can be quite menacing. She carries a dagger and raises it in a threatening manner. She is dressed in red and glows. There is an intense cold that follows her in whatever room she appears.

A young girl who had lived at the castle in the 1600s fell to her death from one of the castle's battlements. People still see the image of a girl falling from the castle to this day. But there is a story behind the girl's fall. The story reports that the girl may have been pushed to her death, by her father's ghost. Apparently she had killed her father one night because of an arranged marriage. He wanted her to marry a rich friend. She was in love with a poor farm boy. The father had the boy killed, so the daughter got revenge. Screams of a young girl are heard throughout the castle.

The most famous spirit at the castle is named "The Elemental." This spirit is not the ghost of anyone and based on descriptions, we would say it is something demonic. Theories abound about its origins. It is thought to have originated with the Druids who may have conjured it during their ceremonies at this location. The Earl of Kildare, who burned the castle in the 1500s, was rumored to be a magician and some believe he had something to do with using the Elemental to curse the place. In the early 1900s, Spiritism and dabbling in the occult were fashionable. Mildred Darby had tried her hand at a bit of magic and it is thought that perhaps she helped to awaken the Elemental. She describes an encounter with the creature in an article she wrote for the Journal Occult Review in 1909. She wrote, "I was standing in the Gallery looking down at the main floor, when I felt somebody put a hand on my shoulder.  The thing was about the size of a sheep. Thin gaunting shadowy..., it's face was human, to be more accurate inhuman.  Its lust in its eyes which seemed half decomposed in black cavities stared into mine.  The horrible smell one hundred times intensified came up into my face, giving me a deadly nausea.  It was the smell of a decomposing corpse." The Ryans claim they have never encountered the Elemental. They have tried to keep the castle a cheery place and so perhaps they have not provoked the spirit into action.

But there have been numerous stories in the 2000s about encounters with the Elemental. A group of investigators reported:
"Our flashlights revealed a huge hole in the stone floored front hall and we gingerly made our way around the edge, heading for the spiral staircase. No ghost would make us nervous – we were the Dublin Ghost Busters! Despite our confidence, we found ourselves talking in whispers.  A slight sound behind me and I spun like a ballerina to see the cause.  But as I spun around, I slipped and then dropped through the hole in the floor.  The flashlight hit a rock and went out. Just above me, just out of reach, I could see the jagged outline of the floor. I could hear friends coming to help me. And then, in the darkness, I could hear a sniffling snorkly sort of noise. There was a smell, too.  A horrid, rotten smell.  I am not athletic, but that night, terror put rockets into my heels. I shot upwards. Scrabbling madly I made the doorway and did not stop running till I was safely in the car."
And in 2006, another person reported:
"I looked into the darkness of a corridor that exited the spiral stairway.  I became aware of the smell of sulphur.  It was as if boxes and boxes of matches had suddenly been lit at once.  I looked at my friend who had taken me to visit Leap Castle.  He could also smell the sulphur.  I stared into the darkness of the corridor and had the impression that a beast like a bear or lion was staring back at me .  The tension was rising like a ticking timebomb.  My friend then closed the door and said “To let sleeping dogs lie.”  Meaning sometimes you just have to leave things alone.  He was a friend of Sean Ryan and I certainly did not want to disrespect either of them by stirring up the Elemental. The Elemental has the potential to cause great harm to anyone receiving the brunt of an attack.  One belief is that that the Elemental has the ability to alter the atmospheric pressure, generally lowering it.  The polarity of atmospheric ions fluctuates and triggers a condition known as serotonin hyperfunction syndrome.  This can cause symptoms such as heart palpitations, nausea, vomiting, sweating/chills, tremor, dizziness and fatigue.  It has also been seen that skin and hair will have an electrical charge.  This theory has been generated over the last 10 years and it is interesting to note similarities between these symptoms to those described by Mildred Darby in the early 1900′s. I felt every hair on my head separate and move. For my flesh all over my body and scalp crept, and every hair on my head stood straight on end...the absolute weakness that came over me, the seeming cessation of the pulses of life, the grip in heart and brain, the deadly numbness which rendered me incapable of thought, word or action, when I first saw that awful beast."
Has the bloody and violent past of Leap Castle led to unrest of the dead? Are these spirits spawned by violence or were they conjured long ago? Are these experiences just figments of the imaginations of those who visit the castle? Is Leap Castle haunted? That is for you to decide!

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