Boyzone's Ronan Keating was preparing to leave the family home last night, following the shock announcement that he is separating from his wife Yvonne.
The couple have been married for 12 years and have three young children.
The Boyzone frontman visited the couple's luxury home in Malahide, north Co Dublin, yesterday afternoon but sources said he was expected to fly to Britain today.
He may be trying to escape the media scrum but he and the rest of Boyzone are also due to promote their new single.
Unconfirmed reports have claimed that yesterday's sudden announcement from the couple was a pre-emptive strike ahead of a story in a Sunday newspaper this weekend, alleging difficulties in the marriage.
Despite the speculation, a close source to Ronan Keating said the singer would not be making any further comment.
"Ronan is more interested in his children right now than talking to the media," said the source.
The surprise announcement was contained in a statement issued on their behalf through a UK newsagency yesterday.
The statement made no mention of any third-party involvement in the break-up.
"With great sadness, Ronan and Yvonne Keating today announce their separation," it said. "The separation is amicable and they will continue to work together in order to provide the best for their children."
It added: "The family ask for privacy at this difficult time."
A spokesman said there would be no further comment on the separation.
Keating was at the couple's luxury home in Malahide yesterday but would not speak to reporters. It is not known if Yvonne was present.
Lisa Duffy, wife of Boyzone member Keith, was among the visitors to the house.
Celebrity solicitor Gerald Kean, one of the couple's closest friends, said: "I've known Ronan since he was 16 and the first I heard of this was yesterday.
"It's news that has left me in complete shock and my thoughts are with Ronan and Yvonne and their wonderful children."
Boyzone manager Louis Walsh said he was also taken aback by the sudden announcement.
"Yvonne was the perfect showbiz wife for Ronan, totally supportive of everything he did. I would never have expected news like this," he said.
"This is one couple I thought would always be together. I'm still in shock."
Keating (33) said in the past that beginning a relationship with Yvonne (36) led him to give up the one-night stands and wild parties he enjoyed as a young man on tour with Boyzone, saying that at that moment "everything changed".
The couple first met in Straffan in Co Kildare as teenagers, but they did not begin a relationship until a 1997 meeting at the Chocolate Bar in Dublin.
They married in April 1998 while on holiday on the island of Nevis in the Caribbean.
The pair's marriage came less than three months after the death of Keating's mother Marie from breast cancer.
He later revealed that he had asked Yvonne to marry him on a whim after they had been for a walk and the ceremony was held shortly after.
They had a church blessing in Ireland a year later in the company of friends and family and were soon celebrating the arrival of their first child.
The couple became regulars on the Dublin social scene as Keating's solo career began encouragingly following his decision to leave Boyzone.
Their marriage was regarded as one of the most secure and stable relationships on the celebrity scene.
TV producer Bill Hughes, who directed the majority of Boyzone pop videos, said yesterday that at first he refused to believe the news.
"I've known Ronan and Yvonne a long time as a couple. Never once in all that time did I ever see any sign of a problem between the two of them that would make you expect this," he said.
Other friends of the couple, who wished to remain anonymous, also said they were shocked by the sudden announcement, which had come completely out of the blue.
Walsh said that despite the couple announcing their separation, he hoped the marriage could still be saved.
"If any two people can sort this out, it's Ronan and Yvonne," he said.
Source Irish Independent