X Factor sensation Mary Byrne has lifted the lid on her secret heartache about the father of her only daughter, who she described as “the only man I ever loved”.
The singer has spoken of the guilt she feels at the attention being heaped upon the man and his young family, who still live just yards from her own home in Ballyfermot in Dublin.
Mary also said she is positive the man, who she does not want to identify, is the father of her daughter Debbie — and even offered to undergo DNA tests to prove it in the past.
And she told how she was left “shocked and upset” earlier this week after a tabloid newspaper tracked down the man, who now lives with his young family nearby.
One million Irish viewers, one in four of the population in the Republic, are due to tune in to Mary's shot at the final tomorrow night, but she has had only one rehearsal after spending the week recovering from sickness.
The 51-year-old, who is due to perform in the semi-finals of the show tonight, insisted she has always tried to keep the spotlight off her former lover.
And she begged the media to respect the privacy of the father of her daughter Deborah (24).
“I'm genuinely sick about this and upset. I don't want anyone to go near this man or his family. Neither myself or Deborah have ever named him. I don't want his family upset in any way,” Mary said.
However, Mary acknowledged the media focus on her daughter's father was partially her fault after she hinted at her past relationship live in front of millions of X Factor viewers last week.
“It kind of is my fault because he did have a life prior to that, and I shouldn't have said anything about Deborah's father.
“But it was part of my life too and I couldn't ignore that, that love I had for him,” she said.
Mary split from her partner while she was still pregnant. The Tesco checkout worker achieved instant fame after auditioning for the talent show last June.
She faces the biggest test of her spectacular X Factor adventure tonight when she battles to make it into the finals of the hit ITV show.
But Mary's preparations have been thrown into chaos due to illness and she’s been bed-bound for most of this week suffering from an ear and chest infection.
Mary will perform two songs in tonight's X Factor semi-finals, Barbra Streisand hit ‘The Way We Were’ and ‘Never Can Say Goodbye', made famous by Gloria Gaynor.