The close-knit community of Leap was shocked to hear of the unexpected death of former parish priest Fr Pat O’Sullivan, who retired from the parish last year.
Described as ‘a very personable character’ who had a ‘way with words’ the Glengarriff native touched the lives of young and old during his time in Leap and involved himself in every aspect of the community in Leap, Glandore and Maulatrahane. He died peacefully at CUH on Tuesday.
Fr Pat was living in Carraig na bhFear but still had time for his former parish and even attended the drawn Junior A West Cork Football Final match recently.
Local businessman Ted O’Donovan said Fr Pat’s death would be a huge loss to a whole generation. ‘He was a great community man who got involved in every single aspect of life here – whether that was matches, weddings or funerals,’ Ted told The Southern Star.
‘Fr Pat was humble and mild-mannered and there was no fuss about him. He commanded huge respect from everyone.’ Ted said it was probably Fr Pat’s wish that he would be buried in Leap, and his funeral will take place at his former church, St Mary’s.
‘He was there for all my children when they got their Holy Communion and when the teachers and pupils of the national school received the news on Tuesday afternoon, there were a lot of tears shed,’ said Ted.
Fr Pat’s popularity in the community was highlighted at his retirement mass last year.
‘There wasn’t a seat to be had, which was a reflection of his popularity and the esteem he was held in by locals.’
Sam McNicholl, who runs Connolly’s of Leap, knew Fr Pat from a very young age and said his friend was ‘a bright character’.
‘He taught us football in primary school and he also officiated at my father Paddy’s funeral, as well as marrying my brother and sister-in-law,’ said Sam.
Sam recalled that Fr Pat even said mass in Connolly’s on more than once occasion.
Managing director of The Southern Star, Sean Mahon, said he first met Fr Pat when he officiated at his wedding in Glandore Church in 2003.
‘He also oversaw two of my children’s Communions and I sat on the board of management of Leap National School with him for several years,’ said Mr Mahon.
‘He was a kind, good and a wise man with a gentle manner, and had time for everyone in the community. He will be greatly missed, by locals, parents, teachers and the children from Leap, Glandore and Maulatrahane schools.’
A large photo of him adorns the railings in Leap village as part of photographer Shay Hunston’s ‘People of the Wild Atlantic Way’ series.
His words under the photo also show his eloquence: ‘What impresses me ... is the enthusiasm of the young and the wisdom of the not so young. In a changing, and often confused world, the idealism and social conscience of the vast majority of young people never fails to inspire. The calm dignity of older people, who have enjoyed good times and survived bad times, is equally inspiring.’