MaBy's day off will make all the difference for 'X Factor' hopeful
IRISH 'X Factor' contestant Mary Byrne demanded a day off from producers this week after telling them she was near exhaustion.
The 50-year-old from Ballyfermot made the plea after days of gruelling rehearsals ahead of tonight's second live show.
"Everyone thinks we're finished on Sunday nights but we're back in rehearsals at 6am on Monday morning," Ms Byrne told the Irish Independent. "That's the kind of relentless routine they've had us on.
"No breaks to go for a walk or take time out. It's not healthy. We're not robots. So I told them this week I just couldn't do it any more. I was that tired."
ITV programme makers eventually relented, giving Ms Byrne and her fellow contestants a 24-hour break from their busy schedule of rehearsals.
"If I was a younger person I would have put up with it but thank God they gave in. We got the day off and we all feel fantastic for it and ready for the next four or five gruelling days. Generally the 'X Factor' people treat us very well but we all needed a break to recharge our batteries," added Ms Byrne.
The stand-off with producers turned the mother-of-one into something of a heroine among finalists in the 'X Factor' house.
"I came back to my room and found a box of chocolates from all the kids in the house saying how much they loved me. It meant an awful lot," she said.
Having stolen the show last weekend, performing Sixties classic 'It's A Man's World', Ms Byrne -- dubbed 'MaBy' by fans -- will be interpreting another Sixties hit, Dusty Springfield's 'You Don't Have to Say You Love Me' on tonight's show.
But despite making a stunning live debut last Saturday, Ms Byrne said she still expects to be nervous this week.
"The nerves I was feeling helped push me forward. The adrenalin takes over and adds to my performance."
Ms Byrne said newspaper reports this week claiming she had been called names while unmarried and pregnant with her daughter were unfounded.
"I'd love to clear that up. I was never called names by anyone. Being on my own and bringing up a child happened, but nothing else. I have always had huge support from friends and neighbours, and that continues."
She also denied other reports this week of rows in the 'X Factor' house.
"There was a discussion about a can of deodorant, which got written up as a 'war'," she joked.
Other reports that suggested her daughter Deborah (23) is attending tonight's live show are also incorrect.
"My daughter won't be over for a while -- that's if I stay in. But we're in constant contact, ringing each other three or four times a day," said Ms Byrne.
One of her colleagues from Tesco in Ballyfermot will be at the 'X Factor' show tonight.
John McBride told the Irish Independent: "We all think she can win if she keeps performing the way she did last week."
Meanwhile other colleagues at the south-city Tesco branch have decorated cash till 40, where Ms Byrne usually works, with balloons and posters wishing her well.
Rebecca Creighton (21) from Tallaght in Dublin, performing in girl band Belle Amie, and Niall Horan (17) from Mullingar, Co Westmeath, part of boy band 1 Direction, are among other finalists in the live show.
Irish voting numbers will be on TV3's website www.tv3.ie.