A young Ballintra man who got his first guitar from Santa at the tender age of seven has become an overnight sensation in Nashville and he still has that very first guitar.
On Thursday last, the Democrat carried the story of Diarmaid McGee, who is currently holidaying in Nashville.
Diarmaid is a well-known singer-songwriter and had been guesting in one of Nashville’s most famous music venues, The Bluebird Cafe, when Garth Brooks and his friend dropped in. As it turned out the young Ballintra man and Brooks had met before in Dublin, and the two struck up a conversation.
Diarmaid said, “I was absolutely amazed that he remembered me – we had met at the launch of his ill-fated Croke Park concerts and when I told him I had bought tickets for all five nights he just threw the arms around me and said, ‘Sorry man, but next time we’ll do it!’ After that it was selfies and the usual banter. To be honest I was just over the moon – he was such a gentleman. He is a true example of a living legend and at the same time he is the most humble man you will meet. He has this way of making everybody he speaks to feel like they are they are the only person in the room.”
Since then, things have really spiralled for the young man, who has spent the last nine years serving in the bar of the Sandhouse Hotel and entertaining the hotel residents into the early hours of the morning while also pursuing his studies in business and marketing.
The next day Diarmaid was in the post office and recognised the presenter from the famous Country Music Show, syndicated throughout the States. He struck up conversation with her and within minutes got an invitation to a recording of the show.
He said, “It wasn’t for a performance or anything. They just decided to have a chat with me because I was a red-haired Irishman – maybe the Ed Sheerin looks did help! They didn’t even know I was a musician. It was when I told them that I couldn’t hold on to a girlfriend because of my musician’s lifestyle that he threw the guitar at me and said, ‘Go on give it a go and if you can’t sing, we pull it’!”
Diarmaid slayed the audience with a cover of Eric Church’s “Wrecking Ball”, and the whole thing has gone viral, attracting over 250,000 views.
Diarmaid said, “It’s been a week of tears, but tears of joy. We Irish tend to cry a lot. My parents and I have spent the week crying on the phone – they have been the biggest part of my journey and have been supportive all the way through. I often think that they believe in me more than I do myself.”