The story of our founders, Matt and Melanie.
When Matt Mills and Melanie Furniss first encountered Goleen Farm, they immediately fell in love not only with the stunning location at the edge of Ireland but with the enormous potential it offered as a premium eco-activity and accommodation centre.
A little bit about Matt...
Originally from the UK but resident in Ireland since 1999, Matt was a successful multi-discipline designer. Although he worked mainly in graphic design for print, his design skills are such that he has been involved in many diverse and wide-ranging design projects, including designing bicycles, clothing, commercial interiors, and schematic architecture.
Matt was an early adopter of Mountain Biking and became a successful cross-country racer at the highest level and it was cycling that was ultimately responsible for bringing him to Ireland, having helped run a charity bike ride around Cork & Kerry for over 10 years.
During these visits to these two incredible coastal counties, he saw first-hand the potential Ireland had for mountain biking and before moving here to live permanently, he sent a proposal to Fáilte Ireland to identify the best possible sites for mountain bike trail centres and manage the development of these from idea to reality.
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 that opened in 2000. Ever since, Matt has been a key driver in the establishment of an Activity Centre in Ahakista on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula, which has now received planning permission to proceed, and he was an active member of the Bantry Adventure Tourism Group set up by Fáilte Ireland.
Matt was part of the presentation group that helped win the Sheep’s Head Peninsula its EDEN Award (European Destination of Excellence) based on its sustainable tourism practices, with his contribution receiving special mention in the awarding body’s report. He was also Co-Founder and Chairman of the ‘Sheep’s Head Producers Group’. 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.
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 several years, programming, presenting, and participating in talks, workshops, and events relating to the Sustainability theme, including at large-scale events including Electric Picnic, Body & Soul, and Global Green.
A little bit about Melanie...
Melanie Furniss settled in Ireland 21 years ago after travelling extensively and having lived in The Netherlands, Italy, South Africa, as well as other countries on the African continent. She brings to the project invaluable knowledge of cultural diversity from her life experiences, as well as vast experience of working in the eco-tourism and wellness/spa industries.
Melanie has more than 10 years experience in hosting tourists and language students. She has also taught art, craft, and drama at schools and summer camps throughout West Cork, for over 10 years.
Melanie and her team complement the premium eco-activities and accommodation products that we offer here at Goleen Farm, with a range of luxurious, and eco-friendly “Wellness” offerings such as Facials, Nail Treatments, Seaweed wraps, etc.
Together as a team...
Melanie & Matt first witnessed the insatiable demand for luxury “Glamping” at festivals, and have been part of the crew that has created and driven the success story that is Body & Soul Festival.
With their respective interests in sustainability and the natural world, they have carefully and lovingly created one of Ireland’s most luxurious eco-activity and luxury glamping centres, which is a testament to how luxury and sustainability can be brought together without compromising on quality.
We spent two wonderful weeks at the Goleen Harbour Eco Camp, staying in a lovely wooden tiny house called the Sherkin. Such a peaceful place, and our cabin was always warm (heated by the system that the owner Matt has put in, which comes from a wood pellet water heater housed in a large shed). We loved the eco credentials of the place. Matt was a great host, as was his assistant Shawn. Plenty of room for a couple, or a family with two kids. Our view looked out over Sherkin island and the Fastnet lighthouse. There are several lovely beaches within a 10 minute drive; Barleycove, Ballysirode and Galley cove. Schull and Skibereen are close by, thriving small towns with shops, cafes and a weekly market. Next time we come we want to stay in the Eco Dome!