Burning of Leap Castle

30th July 1922
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The Leap Castle was burned down on nights of 30th and 31st  July 1922 during the Irish Civil War. Rumours abound about who were involved in this act which took place at the Leap.  It is said that some of the tenants on the estate were coerced into taking part by the IRA or others.  The entire West wing of the Castle was destroyed in the fire.  The owner at the time Jonathan Darby and his wife Mildred were not living in the Castle at the time of the burning. The family had left in March 1922 following several threats and warnings.  The castle servants were paid off and a few were left to take care of the building and land.  Mr Dawkins who was the steward and his wife were there on the night of the burning.  He was forced at gunpoint to let the attackers into the Castle.  Between the burnings he managed to hide some valuables in bushes outside the Castle and this property was later moved to other Anglo Irish houses in the area.  The Darby family never returned to live in the Castle afterwards. The lands were sold to local tenant farmers by the Irish Land Commission following compulsory acquisition under the Land Act 1923.  The Castle remained in Darby ownership until it was sold in the 70's to an Australian Peter Bartlett who commenced restoring the ruined Castle.  He died in 1989 and the Castle was subsequently purchased by Sean and Anne Ryan, who now live there.  Sean continues to restore the Castle to it's former glory.  Jonathan Darby died in 1943 and is buried in the local graveyard at Aghancon Church.

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