The mum of superstar rocker Johnny McDaid has given her official seal of approval to his movie star fiancée Courteney Cox.
“We all love her,” Pauline McDaid told Sunday Life in her first newspaper interview.
The retired art teacher said the Friends and Cougar Town actress “felt at home” on her recent trip to Derry where she enjoyed shopping “up the town”, quiet family gatherings and paddling at the seaside.
She also revealed how the newly engaged couple also paid an emotional visit to the city’s iconic Peace Bridge, in tribute to the Snow Patrol man’s late father, John Snr.
Devoted dad John, who passed away in 2011, was instrumental in bringing the bridge to the north-west, just weeks before he lost his battle with cancer.
Speaking from her Culmore home, mum-of-six Pauline told how singer Ed Sheeran joined the family and Courteney for a party in their home last weekend to mark Johnny’s 38th birthday.
“Courteney was very anxious to see John's home and we took her around and showed her where John grew up,” said Pauline.
“We showed her St Columb's College, Carnhill Primary School, you know, all the historical things of John's life.
“And she is a very empathetic person, so visiting the Peace Bridge was a big thing for her.
“We also went up to the grave, and that was quite, well, as you can imagine...John is obviously upset that his daddy isn't going to meet her.
“As I say, they walked the Peace Bridge, did the whole town, walked the (Derry) walls and they went and visited Paddy Doherty, who would also have been instrumental in setting up the Inner City Trust here in the town.
“So we took her over to see Paddy and his wife Eileen where we just had a wee quiet gathering on John's birthday (July 24). Then we had a wee party here on the Friday night for his birthday, and Ed Sheeran turned up for it.
“He surprised John, flew in from Ibiza. John and him work very closely together. It was Ed that introduced them, so that was special. We were keeping it all very quiet and then Ed tweeted that he loved his stay in Derry, so it was out!”
Pauline said her eldest son, who lives with the Scream star in Hollywood, was “as proud as punch” at showing his bride-to-be around his home town.
“John is very much a Derryman, very much so. He tries to sell Derry wherever he goes,” she said.
“So to be able to show Courteney around where he grew up, and around his history, well he was as proud as punch.”
Courteney, 50, and her 10-year-old daughter, Coco, whose father is American actor David Arquette, jetted in with Ryanair to the City of Derry Airport last week after meeting up with Johnny’s sister in London.
“John was actually with me in Liverpool attending my younger son's graduation – he stood in for his daddy.
“So Aine, my oldest daughter, brought Courteney on ahead. And Sile was here, she's my second oldest daughter. They took her down to Shrove, which is Aine's favourite beach in Donegal.
“They were in paddling in the water, you know, just being absolutely normal. And they couldn't believe the weather.”
Pauline first met Courteney in Italy earlier this year when the couple were holidaying.
“The whole family came home to meet her – three of John's sister's had already met her in Venice in February but we all met up on Monday last week, so she has now met all the family.
“I've never been to Los Angeles so I have no idea what their life is like out there, but I mean she (Courteney) was just so comfortable and fitted right in.
“And the people were absolutely fantastic to her, as I expected they would be. And she wanted to do normal things, like go up the town and do her shopping.”
She described Cox’s daughter Coco as a “wee pet” who “absolutely loved” Derry.
“We were all out playing hide-and-go-seek, when the weather was so beautiful and she just loved it. She loves photo bombing – any photographs, if you look closely, Coco's there somewhere!”
Asked if she thought the couple would marry soon, she said: “They have only just got engaged but they are head over heels in love, and it is lovely to see how happy they are together.”
Pauline said she was sure the star would return to visit soon.
“She's filming at the moment for Cougar Town, so I expect when that's over she will have time to come back. And she definitely will.
“She even picked up some Derry phrases when she was here. The girls were teaching her a few. And with her being an actress, she can do the best Derry accent.”