The couple who are driving the Goleen Harbour project are Matt Mills & Melanie Furniss, to learn about our plans visit this page.
Matt Mills has been resident in Ireland since 1999, coming from the UK where he was a successful multi discipline designer working mainly in graphic design for print but also have designed bicycles, clothing, commercial interiors and schematic architecture.
Matt was an early adopter of Mountain Biking and became a successful cross county racer at the highest level, he went on to work in the industry for 2 years and remained involved in the sport through testing products for magazines. It was cycling that bought him to Ireland having helped run a charity bike ride around Cork & Kerry for over 10 years with UK company Bike Events. He could see the potential Ireland had for mountain biking and before moving sent a proposal to Fáilte Ireland to search the country for the best potential sites for mountain bike trail centres and project mange the creation of them. This lead to meetings with the head of cycling and walking and the head of recreation at Coillte. Eventually Coillte sites were looked at and a suitable site identified but the development had to be put on hold due to logging patterns which lead Matt to go back to graphic design. Coillte opened their first trail centre, Ballyhoura in 2006 using the same trail designer recommended by him 7 years before. Shortly after arriving in Ireland Matt co-created the Sheep’s Head Cycle Route for the Sheep’s Head Way, the first official way marked cycle route in the country opened in 2000. Since then Matt has been a key driver in the establishment of an Activity Centre in Ahakista on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula which has just received planning permission, he was an active member of the Bantry Adventure Tourism Group set up by Fáilte Ireland.
Matt has advised on Eco tourism projects both commercial and community based. He has worked in education and animation of environmental and sustainability projects including event management of the successful Sustain West Cork weekend in 2005 that featured talks from Lord David Putnam and co-founder of Friends of the Earth Johnathan Porritt along with a fund raising concert from supporter Christy Moore. The event won Cork Environmental Forums Best Community Initiative Award that year. Matt was part of the presentation group that helped win the Sheep’s Head Peninsula it’s EDEN (European Destination of Excellence) for it’s sustainable tourism practices with his contribution receiving special mention in the awarding bodies report. He was co-founder and chairman of the Sheep’s Head Producers Group which formed through animating a small group of individuals who had attended the Community Powerdown course he lead and facilitated. The group now has over 120 producers, and entirely through volunteer efforts, runs a successful producers shop and Sunday market selling anything from paintings to potatoes. See their website here. Matt joined the board of the West Cork Development Partnership in 2009 in the Environmental Pillar position. He has also been involved in the festival scene in Ireland for a number of years programming, presenting and participating in talks workshops and events on a Sustainability theme for Electric Picnic, Body & Soul and Global Green.
“In my view, Matt Mills himself is an integral part of the USP for the development of the Goleen Harbour Holiday project. He has built up a wealth of experience and contacts in the Eco-tourism sector which, along with his strong design skills, music and art’s festival work and leadership role in sustainable community development, provides a unique set of attributes to the project enhancing its likelihood of being a successful, sustainable business” Patrick A O’Mahoney, Business Planner SMART Goals – Tourism, Leisure and PR Consultants & formerly head of Cycling & Walking at Fáilte Ireland
Melanie Furniss settled in Ireland 21 years ago after travelling extensively and having lived in Holland, Italy South Africa and Africa. She brings to the project a knowledge of these cultures, eco tourism and wellness / spa businesses. Melanie is a successful Massage Therapist having created her own treatment programme that incorporates traditional therapeutic massage techniques with Thai Yoga massage and stretches. She has taught therapists her techniques including those at Mrembo Spa voted one of the top 10 Spa’s in the world who switched over completely to her treatment methods.
Melanie has more than 10 years experience in hosting tourists and language students. She has also taught art, craft and drama to school children and at summer camps throughout West Cork for over 10 years. She had first hand experience during 2014 season of the rise in tourist numbers as her number of massage clients staying Goleen, Schull and Crookhaven increased by around 250%. Melanie and her team will compliment the activities and accommodation provided by Goleen Harbour Holidays with other “Wellness” offerings such as Facials, Nail Treatments Sea Weed Wraps etc. She has also been involved in festivals in Ireland as a therapist and an entertainer. Melanie is currently a student on the Visual Art Degree course on Sherkin Island, a course that produced 6 first class honours students in 2013.
Melanie & Matt have witnessed the growth in “Glamping” at festivals and have been part of the crew that has created and driven the success story that is Body & Soul. Melanie and Matt are uniquely placed through their knowledge and contacts to bring a taste of what gives that festival such a special environment to the site at Goleen. They will be working with local artists to create sculptures and artistic structures for activities, relaxing and playing.
Local couple Diana & Jeremy Gilbert also own shares in the company and are fellow Directors they are excited by the plans and the benefits the delivery of them will bring to Goleen and the Mizen Peninsula.