Saturday 16 December 2017

Banks will not let my dream die says David

Banks have no interest in lending to the ordinary man, Enniscrone businessman tells Paul Deering

David McGowan pictured beside the Boeing 767 which he managed to get to Enniscrone from Shannon by road and sea for his Quirky Nights Glamping village which he hopes to open next summer provided he can get funding in place
David McGowan pictured beside the Boeing 767 which he managed to get to Enniscrone from Shannon by road and sea for his Quirky Nights Glamping village which he hopes to open next summer provided he can get funding in place

The banks are trying to play 'hardball' with him but the man behind the Quirky Nights glamping park in Enniscrone says he won't be deterred in his efforts to raise the €2.5m needed to open it.

David, who hit the headlines all over the world when he brought a decommissioned Boeing 767 from Shannon to the proposed glamping park by sea, says he would have been signing his life away had he taken up the loan offers from the banks.

"I did have offers from the banks but when I went home and read the small print I'd have been putting everything I have at risk including the family home and my two funeral homes, a business which I have built up over the past 25 years.

"I just wasn't prepared to put my wife and three children through that and that's why I'm now looking at the alternative of crowdfunding to raise what I need and if I achieve that it will be a lesson for every young person who wants to set up a business in the West of Ireland.

"The banks just wanted to tie me up in knots. They were prepared to give me the money but wanted a personal guarantee for €2million and I would want to be half mad in the head to agree to that. If it did go wrong they'd take it off me and sell it for a third and then go after my business and my house. I'm just not going to put it at risk.

"The reality is that there isn't a banking system in this country for the ordinary Joe Soap. What we have is a banking system for the rich.

"I was in touch with the four major lenders in this country and they tell me that I've no tangible assets and that they'd be left with a hundred tonne of scrap and that's their thinking on it and I'm not afraid to say it.

"It's disheartening for anyone who wishes to set up a business in the West if Ireland. There wouldn't be a problem anywhere else in the country getting the money but the West of Ireland is seen as high risk and a no go area and they've no interest in allowing anyone invest in it.

"But, I'm researching another way without the need to resort to the banks and if I succeed that will act as a great encouragement for young business people who want to set up in the West," David told The Sligo Champion as he was about to enter another speaking event, this time at Croke Park to the Retail Association of Ireland. His story of positivity and overcoming the odds has proven to be inspirational.

And, few will doubt if David won't be able to make his crowdfunding plan work.

"The idea is to get a €100 pledge per person and for that they would get a 50% discount on their stay at Quirky Nights and they would also get a certificate and their name on the proposed terminal building at the site.

"I've 70,000 followers on the facebook page and I only need 25,000 of them to make the pldege. It is achievable. It will mean I won't be giving away my site to the banks and I won't be paying €250,000 a year in interest.

"At every opportunity I promote Sligo. I'd say 80% of what I do is promoting the county and now I need to make a business out of it.

"I don't want to make the mistake of signing my life away," said David, who has invested around €1.3m of his money into the project to date.

And, he's constantly sourcing different forms of disused transport to sit alongside the already impressive array of machinery which includes the Boeing, a train, London taxi and double decker bus.

An ambulance used in the hit US series of the 1970s MASH has also found its way to the Enniscrone park which David says he hopes to open in the summer of 2018.

Glamping nights will be its main functiion but he is already thinking of including a terminal building to faciliate conferences.

David's enthusiasm for the development knows no bounds. His latest plan is to bring a disused submarine from Boston to Enniscrone.

The Russian submarine served as a museum in Providence but sank in a 2007 storm and the authorities there want to get rid of it as soon as possible though it has been ruled the 200 feet long vessel weighing 250 tonne is not seaworthy so it cannot be towed to Ireland.

"I managed to get them to give it to me for nothing and I had hoped to pull it across from the US but I'm not giving up on it.

"There was a meeting there recently of about 30 fellows from the West of Ireland who said they'd come up with a plan for it.

"We might end up putting it on a boat. I'll get it to Sligo somehow. I got a plane out of Shannon when people said it couldn't be done," he says.

Uppermost in his mind is a planned music festival at the site on May 27th/28th next.

"I know it will work out. It won't be easy but it's putting Sligo on the map again and bringing much needed money into Enniscrone," he says.

There's some 75 bands line up for the festival and again David says he's had to deal with some doubters.

"I was at a meeting about it the other day and there was 16 people there and I never seen such negativity. I ended up walking out of the room and I told them not to come back to the table unless they were positive. Not one person left the room," says David.

Sligo Champion

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