Singing sensation Susan Boyle's roots are firmly in Ireland as can be seen in this photograph.

This picture from 1982 shows 21-year-old Susan on a rare family holiday with her parents Bridget and Patrick in Donegal where Bridget's mother's family come from.

Donegal and Mayo are the counties closest to Boyle's heart. Donegal is her family home, while County Mayo is her spiritual home.

Many of Boyle's friends and neigbors from Scotland first saw her singing at the Catholic shrine of Knock in County Mayo.

Local priest Father Basil Clark said he first saw Boyle singing on their church's annual pligrimage to Knock.

"When I watched the judges' faces it reminded me of what I was like when I first saw Susan singing - absolutely blown away by the quality of the singing and by that fantastic voice," he said.

"Anyone who sees her for the first time behaves the same way. I have never heard her sing badly, though she might lose the words if the stress gets too much," he said.

Boyle, whose mother  passed away in 2007, visits Knock every year with the annual Legion of Mary pilgrimage. Boyle is the youngest of nine children of a family of Irish immigrants. Her father Patrick was a worker in a car factory, her mother Bridget a clerk/typist.

Father Clark described her as “a woman of great faith,” whose life revolves around her family and her parish of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Part of Boyle's attraction is that she is such an unlikely candidate for stardom. She told TV viewers she has "never been kissed" and has lived alone with her cat since her mother Bridget died in 2007.

British reports say she developed learning disabilities because of an oxygen shortage at birth. Her social life revolves around her church and her family and she understandably enjoys karaoke in her local pub.

Father Clark said, "When she gets up to sing it can either be wonderful or you can get the unpredictable eccentric behavior, but it is to do with the fact that she has learning difficulties.

"In a sense, there is a beautiful voice trapped in this damaged body," he said. "It is an absolute contrast. There she was on television acting very peculiarly and the audience was expecting peculiar things to happen and then a voice of an angel comes out – and that's Susan."

Father Clark said the local peiple were  "enormously proud of her and wish her the best.”

However, he said, "people are slightly worried about what might happen after this bout of fame.”

"I am quite worried for her," he said. "I think it's great at one level. It might just be the thing that will make her, but she is a very vulnerable person and it could be quite difficult.

"It is a great opportunity for her and as far as I am concerned she should make the best of it, and if it lasts, it lasts, and if it doesn't, then it's still more than almost any one of us will ever achieve," he added. "It is important in sustaining her and making sure this is all a very, very beneficial experience."

He said Boyle was "a woman of great faith" who was often "very gentle and very caring" though she could also be "needy and demanding."

Meanwhile, Boyle’s house has been under virtual siege as worldwide photographers, camera crews and reporters are camped outside the home where she grew up and where she still sleeps in the same room as when she was a child.

The media’s efforts have been in vain as Boyle has gone into hiding as she prepares for the next round of the competition, in which she is expected to sing "Whistle Down the Wind," by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

However, she did do a live link with Larry King show on Friday night where she belted out the theme song from “Titanic” in her living room.

The devout Catholic also paid tribute to her late mother Bridget. "I knew it was something I had to do," she said. "I had to get on with it.  That's where the courage came from, my mother."

Friends and neighbors of Boyle Knock has been the site of several of Boyle's furst Several Boyle – who wowed 25 million viewers on YouTube this week – rocketed to fame after her stunning performance on the British talent show, “Britain’s Got Talent.”

American Idol judge Simon Cowell was brought to tears by Boyle’s rendition of  "I Dreamed a Dream," from the musical "Les Miserables.