Above: Local business man Ger O’Sullivan pictured with Leap’s new postmistress Kathleen Woumans.
Sitting outside Ger’s Wild Atlantic Diner eating her lunch, Kathleen Woumans, the new and very proud postmistress of Leap village, shares her excitement with Mary O’Brien at her new position, while at the same time fielding off friendly cries of “hello local postmistress” from passing villagers. “Hello local publican”, “hello local shopkeeper” she calls back laughing to the people who have become her neighbours and friends since she first moved into Leap village “many moons ago”.
In recent years, Leap has been held up as a shining beacon of what community spirit can achieve. It houses the legendary music venue Connolly’s, has its very own scarecrow festival and a purpose built santa experience ‘Leapland’ – all of which brings thousands of visitors flocking to this little village every year. “It’s some village for one little village,” says Kathleen Woumans proudly.
Little surprise then that Leap made the news again recently with another good news story – the opening of its new post office. Local business man Ger O’Sullivan and Kathleen successfully applied to An Post for the contract to run the office when the opportunity arose in the summer. “The sudden closure of Leap post office two years ago came as a huge shock to the locality,” says Kathleen. “It’s been very difficult for older people in the community to manage without a post office, with many having to rely on friends, family and neighbours for lifts into Skibbereen.”
Originally from Belgium but with her roots very firmly set in Ireland now, Kathleen is passionate about her local community and throws herself into and behind any project that will contribute some good to her home village.
“I grew up in Antwerp during the seventies in a very social active environment,” she says. “Meetings, discussions and demonstrations about environmental and social issues…pedestrianising main city streets, preserving old buildings, providing meals and social outlets for the elderly and vulnerable people in our community so they could stay in their own homes and generally keeping communities alive and sustainable were very much part of my every day life growing up.
“This may be one of the reasons I feel so passionate about keeping local services, social outlets and traditions alive especially in small communities.”
Kathleen moved to Leap to open ‘All Things Nice’, a delicatessen, healthfood store and café, which was located in the building where Ger’s Atlantic Diner is today at what’s locally known as Bennett’s Corner.
Many of her customers became good friends, she raised her daughter Orla here and Leap became home.
When things got quiet, Kathleen closed the business and since then, she’s qualified as a homeopath, managed a café and worked as a carer. She was about to go back to college to get her FETAC qualification in caring for the elderly when the opportunity arose to run the post office.
“I love being a part of a community, meeting and knowing everyone and chatting to people, I just love it,” she says. “A village likes Leap needs a post office and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”
Leap Post Office will provide a number of additional services such as printing, binding and a lamination service in support of students and small businesses. The Post Office will also sell cards, stationary and small gifts made by local crafts people.
Whatever the service, one thing is certain – it will be service with a smile.
Leap Post Office is open Mon – Fri, 9am-5.30pm. Closed for lunch 1-2pm. Sat, 9-1pm.