Mary plays mum to youngsters in X Factor family
UNITED: Budding stars become best of friends as live finals begin
X FACTOR star Mary Byrne is cooing like a mother hen over the two young Irish contestants Niall Horan and Rebecca Creighton while they're away from home.
Rebecca's dad revealed that big-hearted singer has taken the younger contestants under her wing while they are living in the secret house in England.
"Niall Horan and Rebecca and Mary are very close over there," Noel Creighton said.
"Not that they stick together, but if they have any problems they go to each other.
"Mary being the most experienced -- she's sort of cuddling around them, huddling around them in the house," he added. "She's a lovely person."
Niall (16) from Mullingar and Rebecca (21) have also struck up a close bond and are like brother and sister.
"Niall was at Rebecca's 21st," Noel said. "As soon as they qualified, Rebecca had her 21st in Lanigan's in the Belgard and Niall came over with her, Mary was there as well."
The contestants are gearing up for the first of the live finals tonight.
Rebecca's supporters are gathering to cheer on the Tallaght native in the Old Mill and the Cuckoo's Nest pubs.
Rebecca will sing with the ready-formed girl group Belle Amie while Niall performs in boy band One Direction.
And most of the Irish contestants' families have travelled over to London for the show.
"I'm told we might be able to see her for a half an hour when we're over on Saturday," said Noel Creighton.
But Ballyfermot's Mary Byrne is still battling a nasty illness that could threaten her performance.
"I do have a bit of slight infection in the chest and a little bit of laryngitis," she revealed. "I'm taking everything I possibly can and lots of rest."
Mary, speaking on FM104's Strawberry Alarm Clock said that she went to the doctor during the week.
"They're looking after me here," she said. "I had my throat examined with a camera. So not only my outside is being filmed, but my inside too."
And she laughed off the comparisons of her makeover to comedian Dawn French.
"I love Dawn French, she's just not as good-looking as me," she laughed. "I do like her but I don't want to look like her."
Meanwhile, Tesco has urged all employees to get behind their colleague and have encouraged workers to vote for checkout lady Mary (50). Internal emails have been sent around to urge employees to vote on the live show tomorrow night.
The X Factor airs tonight at 7.40pm on TV3 with results on Sunday night.