The parish of Kilmacabea comprises the two ancient parishes of Kilmacabea an Kilfaughnabeg. In the parish are the villages of Leap, Glandore and Connonagh. At the western side of Leap is a deep gorge, over which, according to the legend, an O’Donovan leaped on horseback while being pursued by British soldiers. This gorge divides the West from East Carbery. So difficult was it to pass “beyond the leap” at one stage, that it was said: “beyond the leap, beyond the law”. In Cape Clear it used to be said that St. Patrick never came west beyond Leap, all the territory to the west having been previously Christianised by St. Ciaran.
Leap in Irish is Leim UI Dhonnabhain (O’Donovan’s Leap). It has been shortened in recent times to An Leim (The Leap) or Leim (Leap).
Glandore, beautifully situated looking Glandore harbour, is Cuan Dor, the harbour of the oak trees, another version would be Cuan dTor, the harbour of the heights. Leap estuary, which is quite shallow, was always known as Cuan Cluthair na Leime (the sheltered harbour of Leap). The harbour must have been deeper once because quite big boats were able to come up to Leap Quay with merchandise.
West Cork was populated by a tribe of Érainn stock long before the coming of the Celts, who arrived about 500 B.C. This trive was known as Corca Laidhe from corca the people or race of Laidhe. Corcalee denotes both the tribe and the area they occupied which at one time extended from the Bandon River to the Kenmare River. Genealogists provided them with mythical Gaelic ancestors to disguise their Ernean origin. The ancestorship goes back to Milesius, leader of the Celts who conquered Ireland. The tribe was divided into sept, of whom the O’Driscolls were the leaders. Other septs include O’Hea (or Hayes), O’Lynch, O’Kelly, Murray, Shelly, Galvin, O’Flynn, Cullinane, O’Leary, O’Hennessy, Dineen, Cronin, O’Nolan, O’Duggan, Mc Kennedy, O Deasy, O’Rory.
Kilmacabea parish was part of the Corcalee, of which the leading sept were the O’Driscolls, but in the early thirteenth century, the O’Donovans arrived with their followers, the Collinses and Connollys.
With the coming of the Normans, the O’Donovans with their kingsmen, the Collinses and Connollys, were forced out of their ancestral land in Co. Limerick and settled in south-west Cork about A.D. 1200. The West Cork O’Donovans are descended from Crom O’Donovan (Crom – the stooped one). Their territory extended from Castledonovan, north of Drimoleague, south to the sea.
When the O’Donovans had completed their land acquisitions they had split Corcalee into two parts. People of Corcalee lived east or west of Ui Chairbre, hence East or west Carbery.
In the construction of the metal bridge across the harbour much difficulty had to be overcome in getting a solid foundation for the Union Hall side of the bridge. Excavations in part went down to a depth of sixty feet and at this depth were found pieces of pottery of a very early kind. This may be taken as proof that Leap Harbour was once navigable for large vessels. Another proof to show how the mud is rising