An Enniskillen graduate, who is forging a successful career in his home town's tourism and hospitality industry, has urged other young people to follow in his footsteps. 

Having graduated with a Master’s Degree in Applied Mathematics from Queen’s University Belfast in 2021, Matthew - a former Portora Royal student - seemed certain to embark on a career in a big city.

However, with a stable job, clear opportunities for progression, great colleagues and the opportunity to work in a people-facing role, Matthew decided to stay in Enniskillen and build a career in the tourism and hospitality industry.

“I have been in this industry since I was 19, and while it was never initially my plan to stay, life throws you curveballs,” said the 26-year-old.

“I did look at other roles, but I realised I was really enjoying working with people, in this industry and in Enniskillen especially.

"It is a great career and I am really glad that I have the opportunity to make it here, in my home town.

“There is something special about this industry, and this job really feels like more than a job. This is a growing industry, and one in which you can really carve out a career.

“Anyone wanting to get involved in the tourism and hospitality industry will be welcomed with open arms.

"You just have to get stuck in and be passionate and enthusiastic about learning the trade. If you are dedicated and apply yourself, you really will reap the rewards of a career in this industry,” he added.

Having started in the Westville Hotel as a glass collector, Matthew has worked his way up over the course of seven years, and is now the General Manager of The Firehouse Bar and Grill.

His passion and dedication to the role were formally recognised last year when Matthew was named one of the Northern Ireland Hotel Federation’s Rising Stars.

The Rising Stars initiative aims to provide a platform to showcase talented personnel, reward those who contribute significantly to the sector’s success, and underscore the career potential within the industry.

Having been nominated for the award by his employer – The Cassidy Hospitality Group – Matthew said he couldn’t believe his efforts had been recognised in such a manner.

“Coming from the wee small town of Enniskillen and winning this award is something else!

"Getting this type of recognition is a wonderful feeling and only encourages me to keep striving for more in my career,” he said.

“It was an honour to be nominated for this award by my employer. It’s a thrill to know your work is so appreciated and, honestly, going to the awards night was a great reward in itself.

“The whole evening was a fantastic experience. It was a great night, and having the opportunity to meet other people, of a similar age, who are as passionate about the industry as me was really motivating.

“This is a great sector in which you can really forge a career for yourself, but it’s hard to believe how far I’ve come in what is a relatively short period of time.”

Having worked in the former Lochside Vivo, Matthew got his break when, ahead of the store’s permanent closure, the General Manager of the Westville Hotel offered him a job.

Jumping at the opportunity, Matthew was soon collecting glasses and worked as a food and beverage assistant throughout his time at university.

Following his graduation, he took up a full-time role as a food and beverage supervisor before being appointed Bar Supervisor, and subsequently, the Assistant Food and Beverage Manager.

Matthew then made the move to The Firehouse Bar and Grill where he worked as the Assistant General Manager before being appointed the venue’s General Manager just a few months later.

Appreciating the importance hospitality venues play in communities, Matthew fondly recalls a family gathering in the immediate aftermath of the Covid-19 lockdowns as the highlight of his career so far.

“I think everyone loves coming out to enjoy great food and drink and indulge in a joyful experience,” said Matthew.

“The clearest example of that in my mind is when a family of 12 got together in The Firehouse. It was the first time they had been able to enjoy each other’s company over great food and drinks since the lockdowns began.

“The atmosphere they created was amazing and knowing that I’d played some part in helping to create that feeling of joy, and helping make their day, really was special.

“The sense of pride I feel when someone comes up, thanks you and says they have had the best time, is hard to beat.”

Fully embracing his role in the tourism and hospitality industry, Matthew is keen to see others follow in his footsteps.

“Having experience in this industry really puts you in good stead,” he said.

“The Cassidy Hospitality Group is a lovely group to work for, and if you’re looking to get your career started then please come and join us. We’d be more than happy to have you.”

If you are starting out or switching careers and want to learn more about working in the tourism and hospitality industry, visit for further information.

To find out more about The Firehouse Bar & Grill, see