Ditching Celtic Thunder for ‘Glee’

As the contenders of the competition show “The Glee Project,” one of the youngest contestants left a successful group with a huge TV presence to do so.

And then he had to fight immigration laws.

But so far, it’s been worth it for Damian McGinty.

Appearing on a “Glee Project” panel, McGinty said being in Celtic Thunder, the touring group that made an impression on public television pledge drives “was an incredible experience, especially beginning of the age of 14.”

But, he adds, “there’s nothing in the world” like “Glee,” which he called “one of the most amazing things ever created. And not to mention that it’s probably the biggest show on TV right now. And you need to be crazy to not want to be a part of that.”

Still it wasn’t easy for a guy from Ireland.

“I sent my audition in on MySpace, because obviously I couldn’t go to like Texas or Dallas or whatever. So I did it through MySpace,” McGinty said. And he began contacting the producers.

Producer Michael Davies says McGinty, “basically harangued [casting director] Robert [Urich] for a year, and continued to sort of press, go through remarkable challenges to even put himself in a situation to be considered for this show.”

During his campaign, McGinty continued to work with Celtic Thunder, a popular group on PBS with tours, albums and specials.

“I did a cruise in January before I was told that I had made the final 83 for callbacks in L.A,” he says. “But being from Ireland I had to get an ’01
 visa. And several times it looked like I was not going to be a part of this at all. Like I remember basically Robert rang me and we had a final call and Robert said, ‘Damian, I’m so sorry, but legally you can’t do this anymore.’

“So I put the phone down, and that was it. I was sitting on my bed and I was thinking, final 83, but I can’t do it because of visa problems, you know. But I picked up the phone and I was persistent. I said to Robert, I said, ‘Give me two days before you send the tapes to Ryan Murphy.’

“I got two days and some way, I have no idea, a miracle happened. And through all the time, all the work I got the 0-1 Visa, and I’m sitting here. For me personally there’s been a lot of fight involved in me being here, you know.

“I think I’ve aged quite a bit during this experience,” McGinty says. “A few wrinkles on the forehead. But it’s been phenomenal.

Says Davies, “To say 
it was last minute would be actually not true. It
 was more than last minute. It was crazy up until
 the last second to get Damian on the show.”

And he’s done well, ending up in the Top 5 with Cameron Mitchell, Lindsay Pearce, Hannah McIalwain and Samuel Larsen

“The Glee Project” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Oxygen.

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