Leamaneh Castle is an imposing structure consisting of a 15th-century tower house and a 17th-century mansion, located in the Burren, County Clare. While considered to be one of the finest castles in its day, the building is now in ruin, and given its isolated location, it is not hard to imagine that it should be the setting for a few ghostly tales.
In the 1630s, the castle was owned by Conor O’Brien and he lived there with his wife, Mary MacMahon – also known as Red Mary. Mary had fiery red hair and was widely known to be a cunning and merciless woman. Many intriguing legends surround her, including one which suggested she had as many as 25 husbands – but we do know that she at least 3. Other legends suggest that she was particularly brutal towards those in her employ. If a male servant fell afoul of her, he would be hung by his neck from the castle tower, while a female servant would have her breasts cut off and be hung by her hair.
Irrespective of the number of husbands she may have had, how some of them may have died, and whether or not she did hang servants who displeased her, it is known that Red Mary amassed a number of enemies in her life and that they would eventually seek grizzly revenge. Mary was captured, shackled, and placed inside a hollow tree where she was left to starve to death. Reports differ over whether the tree was in the grounds of Leamaneh Castle or at another isolated place known as the Druid’s Altar, but her red-haired ghost has been spotted at both locations. Some claim that evil laughter and terrifying screams can also be heard.
Please note that the castle is visible from the road, but the ruin is not accessible.
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