Sunday 17 December 2017

It's like Italia '90 all over again, say fans

Fiona Ellis

IS it really 20 years since Ireland played in the World Cup in Italy?

Because little has changed atmosphere-wise for one area of Dublin, which has contracted 'X Factor' fever.

Symptoms include packed pubs, shouting at televisions, nail-biting and frenzied support. In Ballyfermot, it is, as one local put it yesterday, "like Italia '90 all over again".

The cause, of course, is Mary Byrne.

The whole community is behind the singer who has wowed the judges and audiences alike on the reality show with her amazing and unexpected vocals.

"Ballyer will never be the same. We're going to have a superstar," Patrick Byrne said as he waited inside Mary's local, Tim Youngs, for the results show last night.

"Mary is going to kick ass. She is brilliant and will be in the final without a shadow of a doubt," he added.

A former karaoke sidekick of Mary's was also full of praise.

"She's a beautiful singer," Michael O'Connor said.

"I hope she goes all the way. When she sang the hairs would stand on the back of your neck. I hope she goes all the way."

But it's not only her talent that has given Mary star status in this part of Dublin.

"Mary has always done a lot for Ballyfermot," said another local, who didn't wish to be named.

"She's always helped the people around here by singing for local charity. She has a beautiful voice and we all wish her the very best."

The number 40 till where Mary works in Tesco is kept as a shrine to the singer, with the area festooned with balloons and banners.

A supermarket colleague, Robert Cummins, was doing his weekly shopping with his family yesterday, dressed in an 'X Factor' t-shirt.

"We all saw it in her, we knew she could do it," he said.

"Fair play to her. The staff and everyone in the community are delighted and are backing her up. We wish her the very best of luck."

Everyone had a good word for MaBy, as they are calling her in Britain.

"I think she is brilliant, I know her, we all know her from the tills," Paul Traynor, a local resident, said.

"There is a lot of talent in the competition this year, but she'll be in the last four at least," said Mr Traynor .

His wife, Joan, is hoping for a little more than that after she took a punt a few weeks back -- at 20 to one -- that Mary would win the competition outright.

A nation holds its breath, as George Hamilton famously said one afternoon two decades ago.

Irish Independent

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