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The love of her life left pregnant Mary for another woman; SAYS HER BROTHER.


SHOW sensation Mary Byrne had her heart broken by the love of her life - who left her for another woman when she got pregnant.

Mary's brother Willie, 57, who lives near her in Dublin, told the Sunday Mirror: "I can't remember much about the boyfriend, except that he was here one minute and gone the next.

"And it did break her heart because she really loved him. I think it probably destroyed her faith in men ever since."

After indulging her adventurous spirit with a series of jobs in France, Germany and Israel in her early twenties, Mary (who sang I Who Have Nothing last night) returned to Dublin and believed she had found the man of her dreams in 1987. But her partner - who Mary and her loyal circle of friends refuse to name - dumped her while she was pregnant after meeting another woman.

Willie said: "They dated on and off for a while and she found out she was pregnant after about four months.

"It was hard on the family because in those days when the Catholic Church influenced everything it was really frowned upon for an unmarried girl to have a child.

"But when Deborah was born she brought a lot of joy into the house and we all played our part in helping Mary to raise her."

Mary devoted herself to her daughter, now 23, taking a succession of low-paid jobs to make ends meet and managing to steer Debbie away from the crime and drugs that have ravaged the area around her.

And she tried hard to give her daughter the stable upbringing Mary herself never had.

Willie tells today how Mary has overcome poverty and heartbreak to stand on the verge of fame and wealth thanks to her amazing voice.

He proudly tells of how his sister's gift for singing helped keep the family together as they struggled against the grim reality of working class life in their hardup area of west Dublin.

When Mary, 50, was a baby, the family of seven were forced to move to Salford after her dad Jimmy managed to find a steady job there as a binman, Willie reveals.

The family moved back to Dublin a few years later and Mary had to quit school at 12 so she could go out to work to help pay the family's bills.

Her mum Elizabeth regularly took belongings to the pawn shop to raise cash for food.

Willie says: "It was normal in those days for kids to leave school and go out to work.

"Mary left school at 12. One of her first jobs was making knickers in a factory. She also had jobs in a paper factory and as a cleaner. It was a hard life in those days but it was the same for everyone here. People lived hand to mouth. But even though we didn't have much we had a happy childhood. I remember great Christmas singalongs.

"Even as a child it was clear Mary had a special singing voice. Then as she got older people were always calling on her for a song at family events."

But even as Mary's talent blossomed, she was often left in floods of tears by bullies, who picked on her because of her weight. Willie said: "Anyone who was a bit different got a real slagging and Mary had a really bad time of it.

"Fortunately she had three brothers, so we could step in and defend her if we knew things had gone too far."

Mary even missed out on an early shot at fame, when her demo tape was accepted for TV talent show Opportunity Knocks in the Seventies but she couldn't raise the cash to attend auditions in England.

And she suffered further heartache when both her parents were struck down in their final years with Alzheimer's disease, which she nursed them through. Mary's mother died in 1994 and her father in 2005.

Willie, who works in a care centre for disabled people, said: "It was very difficult for us as a family. First mum went and we had to watch as she lost her ability to recognise us.

"It took far longer for the Alzheimer's to get my father and it was painful to watch him slipping away."

Eventually friends and another of Mary's brothers, Thomas, 58, a wellknown local pub singer, convinced her to use singing to help her to get over her grief.

Willie said: "It's what she was born to do. Every time she takes the microphone she brings the house down. She'd do every charity gig going and won talent shows across Dublin."

Willie says it was Mary's niece Elaine who urged her to enter The X Factor - and she hasn't looked back.

He says: "The atmosphere around here is like when Ireland were in the World Cup back in 1990. When I watched her performance on Saturday and saw the ovation she got from the audience, the tears of pride were rolling down my face."

But Tesco worker Mary, tipped as one of the favourites to take the crown, fears she could become a target for Irish gangsters who use

kidnap to extort money from wealthy families. With record companies now queuing up to give her a recording deal even if she doesn't win the show, that means a return to the deprived Dublin council estate where she lives could be too dangerous.

Willie says: "It could be hard for her to settle back here."

But he adds: "Mary's had it tough and it's she has alwa kind and gencredit to her that and a wonder "She really her shot o Factor."


Willie in his Dublin home and (left) Mary as a child with mum Elizabeth Mary (left) aged 18 with her sister Betty Mary & her daughter Deborah in 1994 Check-out girl Mary sings on The X Factor last Saturday
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Oct 24, 2010
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