An Offaly Orange Hall…. (one of them!)

Nestled in South County Offaly (or Kings County as it was named in 1556 after the then King Phillip- indeed Kings County is still its legal name!) rests Leap Castle. Some will know, for those that way inclined, that Leap Castle is regarded as the most haunted castle in Ireland. A minimum of 800 years old, the castle has seen every major event in Irish history come to its doors. In 1669 it came into the hands of the Darby family where it remained until burnt in 1922.

It was one of the Darby’s who brought a new purpose to part of the property- an Orange Hall. Which Darby specifically we do not know, but when Jonathon Charles Darby inherited the Castle in 1889, all evidence would point to an Orange Lodge already operating in an upstairs hall at the South of the courtyard. Jonathon was Worshipful Master of ‘Leap Independents’ LOL 1811, also known as Aghancon Orange Lodge, just one of the lodges in the County Grand Lodge of Kings County Orange Lodge.

Aghancon is the name for the local Church of Ireland Parish, and indeed Aghancon Church still operates today in a Union with three other Churches (including one from another once Orange stronghold in Offaly, Shinrone). Locals still refer to this part of the building as ‘The Orange Hall’, though no lodge has sat within its walls in over a century. More lost history.

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