When and how a non-human spirit known as The Elemental came to haunt Leap Castle in Ireland is unknown. Its origins,the first person to encounter it, and even its exact nature until this day are shrouded in mystery.
The time of its appearance is not certain but there have been vague mentions of a troublesome spirit at Leap Castle since very early times.
One early belief is that the Elemental was put there by druids long before the castle was built to protect the sacred site used for initiations and druidic magick.
Another theory is that the Elemental was placed there by an invading force to burn the castle from the inside. The person responsible is thought to be Gerald Fitzgerald Earl of Kildare. He was a renowned magick practitioner and had attempted to take over the castle on several occasions.
Local myths say that the Elemental is the spirit of an ancient O’Carroll who died in the castle from Leprosy. This is said to be the reasoning for the decomposing facial features and appalling stench that accompanies the presence of the spirit.
Mildred Darby married into the Darby family who owned the castle in 1889. She was said to have dabbled in the occult. Her activities focused on séances and automatic writing. Some think that it was her dabbling that either awoke or summoned the Elemental. It was around this time that the horrific discovery in the Oubliette; three cartloads of bones, approximately 150 bodies. The huge release of emotional energy linked to the spirits in the Oubliette upon their discovery may have been enough to wake up the dormant spirit. It was shortly after this that Mildred Darby would have her terrifying encounter with the Elemental.
Whatever this entity is, it only seems to make its presence known when people begin to provoke it. The current owners, the Ryans have lived at Leap since 1991 and have never felt its sinister presence. Mildred Darby may have unknowingly provoked the Elemental by her occult dabbling. Other individuals on the brunt of the Elementals fury have also been looking for it and have attempted to study the entity.
There are few personal accounts of an encounter with the Elemental so an accurate description is quite hard to formulate. It may even appear different depending on how gifted an individual is at ‘seeing’ spirits.
The best descriptions we have are those given by Mildred Darby and an associate staying at Leap.
This is the description as written in The Occult Review article –
Kilman Castle, The House of Horror:
"Suddenly, two hands were laid on my shoulders. I turned round sharply and saw, as clearly as I see you now-a grey ‘Thing’, standing a couple of feet from me, with it’s bent arms raised as if it were cursing me. I cannot describe in words how utterly awful the ‘Thing’ was, it’s very undefinableness rendering the horrible shadow more gruesome. Human in shape, a little shorter than I am, I could just make out the shape of big black holes like great eyes and sharp features, but the whole figure-head, face, hands and all-was grey-unclean, blueish grey, something of the color and appearance of common cotton wool. But, oh! so sinister, repulsive and devilish. My friends who are clever about occult things say it is what they call an “Elemental”.
The thing was about the size of a sheep, thin, gaunt and shadowy in parts. It’s face was human, or to be more accurate, inhuman, in it’s vileness, with large holes of blackness for eyes, loose slobbery lips, and a thick saliva-dripping jaw, sloping back suddenly into its neck! Nose it had none, only spreading, cancerous cavities, the whole face being a uniform tint of grey. This too, was the color of the dark coarse hair covering its head, neck and body. It’s forearms were thickly coated with the same hair, so were its paws, large, loose and hand-shaped; and it sat on it’s hind legs, one hand or paw was raised, and a claw-like finger was extended ready to scratch the paint. It’s lustreless eyes, which seemed half decomposed, and looked incredibly foul, stared into mine, and the horrible smell which had before offended my nostrils, only a hundred times intensified, came up to my face, filling me with a deadly nausea. I noticed the lower half of the creature was indefinite and seemed semi-transparent-at least, I could see the framework of the door that led into the gallery through its body".
A letter in response to ‘Kilman Castle’ article also relates a personal encounter whilst staying at the castle.
"I saw your eyes fixed upon something above our heads, and the next minute my own eyes were filled by the sight of a Thing in the gallery looking down at us. There was plenty of light from the lamps in the hall and the one above on the wall at the corner of the gallery, for every one of us to see quite plainly the grey-colored figure about the height of a small grown-up person looking down at us. I wish I thought I could ever forget the sight of that grey figure with dark spots like holes in its head instead of eyes, standing with grey arms folded on the gallery railing looking down at us. Then just as he put foot on the gallery, the Thing that he saw there, that we were watching, suddenly faded out of sight. The Thing did not move, only became less and less visible until it vanished".
The above account is a good cross reference to the letter Mildred Darby sent to Sydney Carroll.
"The last appearance of the Elemental was on Nov 25th, 1915 and I deduct again last November from the gait of my husband really wild with rage? fright? coming into my room at Midnight to let fly at me for “again dressing up things to try and frighten me.” On the 25th Nov 1915 two of our servants knowing the “master” would be late and that I was driving that afternoon had invited “friends” two soldiers from the Barracks at Birr distant the other side 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 one of the wings (the Priests House) and were unable to be shown the center tower – the very lofty hall. At 7:15 my husband and I went up to dress for dinner, my room in extremity of house from kitchens, his dressing room next door to me. Whilst dressing I was startled by a loud yell of terror stricken male and female voices coming apparently from the hall – and ran out to see the cause. My husband was out ahead of me at his heels I passed through corridor of wing and onto the gallery wing rounds two sides of hall. Two lamps on gallery two more in hall below. On the gallery leaning with “hands” resting on its rail I saw the Thing – the Elemental 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 abuse 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 the Elemental grew fainter and fainter in its outlines 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 enquiry 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 and smelt 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".
The account below describes an encounter with the Elemental. The individual has the unfortunate experience to have been attacked during their investigation.
June 18th, 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 10 feet 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. The 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".
Another first person account of an encounter with the Elemental:
Burnt out during the 1920s, Leap’s looks lived up to its reputation. Narrow Gothic windows, ivy covered towers, bats and a barn owl; it was like a set from a Vincent Price movie. We crept in through the gaping doorway. 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".
Personal encounter with the Elemental June 18th, 2006:
"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 time bomb. 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:
source - leap castle
Marlene at Miami Ghost Chronicles is a freelance paranormal investigator and writer.
Over the years I have gathered the most interesting stories that I have witnessed firsthand or that have been retold to me, but there is so much more happening in the mysterious world of the paranormal. I will provide a wide range of the true stories, folklore and urban myths that are a delight to the weird folk that enjoy the supernatural world.
Do you have a story to tell?