Leap on the N71 in West Cork is always a hopping little place but this weekend it is leaping with scarecrows!
The Leap Scarecrow Festival was devised by locals to take advantage of Leap’s position along the N71 the costal route through West Cork along the Wild Atlantic Way. This year it is a display of over 100 scarecrows to marl Halloween and there are so many they begin a mile either side of the village.
The West Cork village was absolutely buzzing this weekend as thousands of people visited to view the impressive array of entries for the Leap Scarecrow Festival, which has truly captured the public imagination. Hundreds of cars were parked throughout the village and for several hundred yards at either side, as families ambled around on foot admiring the scarecrows and taking photos with them.
There are well over 100 scarecrows dotted around the village of Leap for this week’s Scarecrow Festival, and hundreds of passers-by are pulling in to view the variety of lifelike creations on show. Some of the creative additions introduced to the village in recent weeks include a man built from branches brandishing a chainsaw, a Tim Burton-inspired Jack Skellington and his Corpse Bride, and a good witch and her pet cat. Being a scary festival there are many images this year of Donald Trump, obviously.
Traffic on the N71 through the village both ways travelled at snail’s pace and it took up to ten minutes to get from one end to the other with so much to see. Another large crowd is expected in Leap on bank holiday Monday to take in all there is to marvel at.
The committee counted 136 scarecrows last Saturday, but more have gone up since. The local organiser Ms Kathleen Woumans said they now believe there to be more than 150 scarecrows on display in a village with a population of 240, according to the last census figures. The Foroige youth club alone has contributed 12 scarecrows. The village lies on the N71 road, which runs from Cork City through Clonakilty and Rosscarbery to Skibbereen and Bantry. Many on the route are now taking the time to stop in Leap to view the attractions on show.
The festival is set to run until this weekend, and prizes will be awarded to scarecrow creators across a variety of categories at the judging on the 29th October. The Halloween events culminate with a barn dance and fancy dress party in aid of the school and play school. The rules for entering were simple. Make a sturdy scarecrow that can withstand Irish weather (recyclable materials preferred).
This quirky little festival began last year as just a small idea but grew beyond all of the organiser’s expectations. “It was such a great success because absolutely everyone got involved,” says Kathleen Woumans of the Leap Development Committee. “It brought great community spirit, put a smile on everyone’s face, got creative juices flowing and slowed down traffic! We also managed to raise some money, some of which was donated to local schools.”
The village of Leap (pronounced Lep)lies at the northern extremities of Glandore Harbour. Leim Ui Dhonnabhain (Gaelic) derives from an ancient story of a local Chieftain O’Donovan, who while being pursued by enemies jumped the ravine and escaped, thus O’Donovan’s Leap. In fact there is an old saying “Beyond the Leap, beyond the law”, indicating that the countryside west of Leap, was a haven for criminals and political refugees on the run as they could not be easily followed past the Leap,
Leap is a village noted for hosting rock bands and racehorses. The Central Track is used for trotting and sulkey racing (similar to harness racing), two horse racing disciplines which are fairly unique to the West Cork region. Today it is well known for Connolly’s of Leap, a busy music venue, Ger’s Atlantic Diner, a popular pit stop, and the waterfall at O’Donovan’s Leap which hosts a quirky and amusing display. It is a leaping place!
Get down to Leap and get scared while you can!