Customers at Tesco loved going through Mary Byrne’s checkout line. The middle-aged mom treated everyone to snippets of songs as she rang up their purchases. Mary’s voice was quite amazing and her family and friends encouraged her to try her luck on a televised talent show. But Mary had quit singing in front of large groups when she was 28 after lapsing into depression following a failed relationship. She doubted she could muster up the courage to appear on television before a panel of judges and an auditorium packed with people.

After much prodding, Mary caved in and auditioned first on the Irish television singing contest Nollaig No. 1, which she won! Now armed with a renewed sense of worth and confidence, Mary decided to give The X Factor a go. The four judges – particularly Simon Cowell, took one look at the 50-year-old woman and seemed to instantly dismiss her. But she had not broken out of her shell to stand before them and be patronized.

After greeting the audience and answering a few questions from judges Louis Walsh, Cheryl Cole, Katy Perry, and Simon Cowell, Mary mentally steadied herself. This was the opportunity of a lifetime and she was not going to blow it. She confessed that she had always wanted to be a professional singer and planned to perform “I Who Have Nothing” by Tom Jones. Louis scoffed at her song selection, saying “Big song.” But just a few notes in, Mary proved them all wrong. But what did the judges think? Three of them heaped praise upon the husky-voiced cashier, then it was Simon’s turn. His comments brought Mary to tears. Watch her performance in the video below and see if you agree with Simon. We think she’s terrific!

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