kids encyclopedia robot

Enya facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Enya (Eithne ni Bhraonain), 2022.jpg
Enya in 2022
Background information
Birth name Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin
Also known as
  • Enya
  • Eithne Brennan
  • Enya Patricia Brennan
Born (1961-05-17) 17 May 1961 (age 62)
Gweedore, County Donegal, Ireland
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • musician
  • Vocals
  • piano
Years active 1980–present
Associated acts

Enya Patricia Brennan (/ˈɛnjʌ/; Irish: Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin; born 17 May 1961) is an Irish singer, songwriter, and musician known for modern Celtic music. She is the best-selling Irish solo artist in history, and the second-best-selling overall in Ireland behind U2. Born into a musical family and raised in the Irish-speaking area of Gweedore, County Donegal, Enya began her music career when she joined her family's Celtic folk band Clannad in 1980 on keyboards and backing vocals. She left the group in 1982 with their manager and producer Nicky Ryan to pursue a solo career with Ryan's wife Roma Ryan as her lyricist. Over the following four years Enya developed her sound with multitracked vocals and keyboards containing elements of Celtic, classical, church, new age, world, pop, and Irish folk music.

Enya's first projects as a solo artist included soundtrack work for The Frog Prince (1984) and the 1986 BBC documentary series The Celts, which was released as her debut album titled Enya (1986). She signed with Warner Music UK, which granted her considerable artistic freedom and minimal interference from the label. The commercial and critical success of Watermark (1988) propelled her to worldwide fame, helped by the UK number one and the international hit single "Orinoco Flow". This was followed by the multi-million-selling albums Shepherd Moons (1991), The Memory of Trees (1995), and A Day Without Rain (2000). Sales of the latter and its lead single, "Only Time" surged in the United States following its use in the media coverage of the September 11 attacks. After the albums Amarantine (2005) and And Winter Came... (2008) Enya took a four-year break from music. She returned in 2012 and released her eighth album, Dark Sky Island (2015).

Enya's discography has sold 26.5 million certified albums in the United States and an estimated 80 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time. A Day Without Rain (2000) remains the best-selling new-age album, with an estimated 16 million copies sold worldwide. Enya has won numerous awards, including seven World Music Awards, four Grammy Awards for Best New Age Album, and an Ivor Novello Award. She was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for "May It Be", written for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001).

Early life

Hotel, beach, and shipwreck south of R257 at Bunbeg - - 1159653
An aerial view over Enya's hometown of Gweedore, County Donegal

Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin was born on 17 May 1961 in Dore, a settlement in the parish of Gweedore in County Donegal. It is a Gaeltacht region where Irish is the primary language. Her name is anglicized as Enya Patricia Brennan, where Enya is the phonetic spelling of how "Eithne" is pronounced in her native Ulster dialect of Irish. "Ní Bhraonáin" translates to "daughter of Brennan".

The sixth of nine children, Enya was born into a Roman Catholic family of musicians. Her father Leo Brennan was the leader of the Slieve Foy Band, an Irish showband, and ran Leo's Tavern in Meenaleck. Her mother, Máire Brennan (née Duggan), having distant Spanish roots whose ancestors settled on Tory Island, was an amateur musician who played in Leo's band and taught music at Gweedore Community School.

Enya's maternal grandfather Aodh was the headmaster of the primary school in Dore, and her grandmother was a teacher there. Aodh was also the founder of the Gweedore Theatre company.

Enya described her upbringing as "very quiet and happy." At age three she took part in her first singing competition at the annual Feis Ceoil music festival. She took part in pantomimes at Gweedore Theatre and sang with her siblings in her mother's choir at St Mary's church in Derrybeg.

Enya learned English at primary school and began piano lessons at age four. "I had to do school work and then travel to a neighboring town for piano lessons, and then more school work. I [...] remember my brothers and sisters playing outside [...] and I would be inside playing the piano, this one big book of scales, practising them over and over." When Enya turned eleven, her grandfather paid for her education at a strict convent boarding school in Milford run by nuns of the Loreto order, where she developed a taste for classical music, art, Latin and watercolour painting. She said: "It was devastating to be torn away from such a large family but it was good for my music." Enya left the school at 17 and studied classical music in college for one year to become "a piano teacher sort of person. I never thought of myself composing or being on stage."


1980–1985: Clannad and early solo career

Crolly - Leo's Tavern - - 1174434
Enya's parents' bar near Gweedore

In 1970, several members of Enya's family formed Clannad, a Celtic folk band that later acquired Nicky Ryan as their manager, sound engineer, and producer, and his future wife, Roma Ryan, as tour manager and administrator. In 1980, after her year at college, Enya decided not to pursue a music degree at university and instead accepted Ryan's invitation to join the group. Nicky Ryan wanted to expand their sound with an additional vocalist and the introduction of keyboards. Enya performed an uncredited role on their sixth studio album, Crann Úll (1980), with a line-up also including siblings Máire, Pól, and Ciarán Brennan, and twin uncles Noel and Pádraig Duggan. She was credited on their following album, Fuaim (1981), and is photographed as part of the band on the front cover. Nicky maintained it was never his intention to make Enya a permanent member, and saw she was "fiercely independent [...] intent on playing her own music. She was just not sure of how to go about it". This sparked discussions between the two on layering vocal tracks to create a "choir of one", a concept inspired by the Wall of Sound technique by producer Phil Spector that interested them both.

During a Clannad tour in 1982, Nicky called for a band meeting to address internal issues that had arisen. He added, "It was short and only required a vote, I was a minority of one and lost. Roma and I were out. This left the question of what happened with Enya. I decided to stand back and say nothing". Enya chose to leave with the Ryans and pursue a solo career as she felt confined in the group, and disliked being "somebody in the background". This caused some friction between the two parties at first, but they settled their differences.

Nicky suggested to Enya that either she return to Gweedore "with no particular definite future", or live with him and Roma in the Dublin suburb of Artane "and see what happens, musically", and she accepted the latter proposal. After their bank denied them a loan, Enya sold her saxophone and gave piano lessons for income and the Ryans used what they could afford from their savings to build a recording facility in a shed in their garden on Danieli Drive, which they named Aigle Studio, after the French word for "eagle", and rented out to other musicians to help recoup the costs. The trio formed a musical partnership, with Nicky as Enya's producer and arranger and Roma as her lyricist, and established their music company, Aigle Music. In the following two years, Enya developed her technique and composition by listening to recordings of her reciting pieces of classical music and repeated the process until she started to improvise sections and develop her own arrangements. Her first composition was "An Taibhse Uaighneach", Irish for "The Lonely Ghost". During this time Enya played the synthesizer on Ceol Aduaidh (1983) by Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and Frankie Kennedy.

Enya's first solo endeavor arrived in 1983 when she recorded two piano instrumentals, "An Ghaoth Ón Ghrian"—Irish for "The Solar Wind"—and "Miss Clare Remembers", at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, with these released on Touch Travel (1984), a limited release cassette of music from various artists on the Touch label. She is credited as Eithne Ní Bhraonáin in the liner notes. After several months of preparation, Enya's first live solo performance took place on 23 September 1983 at the National Stadium in Dublin and was televised for RTÉ's music show Festival Folk. Niall Morris, a musician who worked with her during this time, recalled she "was so nervous she could barely get on stage, and she cowered behind the piano until the gig was over."

Morris assisted Enya in the production of a demo tape, playing additional keyboards to her compositions, which Roma thought would suit accompanying visuals, and sent it to various film producers. Among them was David Puttnam, who liked the tape and offered Enya to compose the soundtrack to his upcoming romantic comedy film, The Frog Prince (1984). Enya scored nine pieces for the film but they were later rearranged and orchestrated against her wishes by Richard Myhill, except for two that she sang on, "The Frog Prince" and "Dreams"; the words to the latter were penned by Charlie McGettigan. Film editor Jim Clark said the rearrangements were necessary as Enya found it difficult to compose to picture. Released in 1985, the album is the first commercial release that credits her as Enya, after Nicky Ryan thought "Eithne" would be mispronounced by many non-Irish speakers, and suggested the phonetic spelling of her name. Enya looked back on the composition work on the film as a good career move, but a disappointing one as "we weren't part of it at the end". She then sang on three tracks on Ordinary Man (1985) by Christy Moore.

1985–1989: The Celts and Watermark

Enya logo
Enya's stylised signature logo

In 1985, producer Tony McAuley asked Enya to contribute a track for a six-part BBC television documentary series The Celts. She had already written a Celtic-influenced song named "The March of the Celts", and submitted it to the project. Each episode was to feature a different composer at first, but director David Richardson liked her track so much, that he had Enya score the entire series. Enya recorded 72 minutes of music at Aigle Studio and the BBC studios in Wood Lane, London without recording to picture, though she was required to portray certain themes and ideas that the producers wanted. Unlike The Frog Prince, she worked with little interference which granted her freedom to establish her sound that she would adopt throughout her future career, signified by layered vocals, keyboard-oriented music, and percussion with elements of Celtic, classical, church, and folk music.

In March 1986, two months before The Celts aired, a 40-minute selection of Enya's score was released as her debut solo album, Enya, by BBC Records in the United Kingdom and by Atlantic Records in the United States. The latter promoted it with a new-age imprint on the packaging, which Nicky later thought was "a cowardly thing for them to do". The album gained enough public attention to reach number 8 on the Irish Albums Chart and number 69 on the UK Albums Chart. "I Want Tomorrow" was released as Enya's first single. "Boadicea" was sampled by The Fugees on their 1996 song "Ready or Not"; the group neither sought permission nor gave credit, and Enya took legal action. The group subsequently gave her credit and paid a fee worth around $3 million. Later in 1987, Enya appeared on Sinéad O'Connor's debut album The Lion and the Cobra, reciting Psalm 91 in Irish on "Never Get Old".

Several weeks after the release of Enya, Enya secured a recording contract with Warner Music UK after Rob Dickins, the label's chairman and a fan of Clannad, took a liking to Enya and found himself playing it "every night before I went to bed". He then met Enya and the Ryans at a chance meeting at the Irish Recorded Music Association award ceremony in Dublin and learned Enya had entered negotiations with a rival label. Dickins seized the opportunity and signed her to Warner Music with a deal worth £75,000, granting her wish to write and record with artistic freedom, minimal interference from the label, and without set deadlines to finish albums. Dickins said: "Sometimes you sign an act to make money, and sometimes you sign an act to make music. This was clearly the latter... I just wanted to be involved with this music." Enya then left Atlantic and signed with the Warner-led Geffen Records to handle her American distribution.

With the green light to produce a new studio album, Enya recorded Watermark from June 1987 to April 1988. It was initially recorded in analog at Aigle Studio before Dickins requested to have it re-recorded digitally at Orinoco Studios in Bermondsey, London. Watermark was released in September 1988 and became an unexpected hit, reaching number 5 in the United Kingdom and number 25 on the Billboard 200 in the United States following its release there in January 1989. Its lead single, "Orinoco Flow", was the last song written for the album. It was not intended to be a single at first, but Enya and the Ryans chose it after Dickins asked for a single from them several times as a joke, knowing Enya's music was not made for the Top 40 chart. Dickins and engineer Ross Cullum are referenced in the song's lyrics. "Orinoco Flow" became an international top 10 hit and was number one in the United Kingdom for three weeks. The new-found success propelled Enya to international fame and she received endorsement deals and offers to use her music in television commercials. She spent one year traveling worldwide to promote the album which increased her exposure through interviews, appearances, and live performances.

1989–1997: Shepherd Moons and The Memory of Trees

After promoting Watermark, Enya purchased new recording equipment and started work on her next album, Shepherd Moons. She found the success of Watermark caused a considerable amount of pressure when it came to writing new songs, adding, "I kept thinking, 'Would this have gone on Watermark? Is it as good?' Eventually I had to forget about this and start on a blank canvas and just really go with what felt right." Enya wrote songs based on several ideas, including entries from her diary, the Blitz in London, and her grandparents. Shepherd Moons was released in November 1991, her first album released under Warner-led Reprise Records in the United States. It became a greater commercial success than Watermark, reaching number one in the UK for one week and number 17 in the United States. "Caribbean Blue", its lead single, charted at number thirteen in the United Kingdom.

In 1991, Warner Music released a collection of five Enya music videos as Moonshadows for home video. In 1993, Enya won her first Grammy Award for Best New Age Album for Shepherd Moons. Soon after, Enya and Nicky entered discussions with Industrial Light & Magic, founded by George Lucas, regarding an elaborate stage lighting system for a proposed concert tour, but nothing came out of the meetings. In November 1992, Warner obtained the rights to Enya and re-released the album as The Celts with new artwork. It surpassed its initial sale performance, reaching number 10 in the United Kingdom.

After traveling worldwide to promote Shepherd Moons, Enya started to write and record her fourth album, The Memory of Trees. The album was released in November 1995. It peaked at number five in the United Kingdom and number nine in the United States, where it sold over 3 million copies. Its lead single, "Anywhere Is", reached number seven in the United Kingdom. The second, "On My Way Home", reached number twenty-six in the UK. In late 1994, Enya put out an extended play of Christmas music titled The Christmas EP. Enya was offered to compose the score for Titanic but declined. A recording of her singing "Oíche Chiúin", an Irish-language version of "Silent Night", appeared on the charity album A Very Special Christmas 3, released in benefit of the Special Olympics in October 1997.

In early 1997, Enya began to select tracks for her first compilation album, "trying to select the obvious ones, the hits, and others." She chose to work on the collection following the promotional tour for The Memory of Trees as she felt it was the right time in her career, and that her contract with WEA required her to release a "best of" album. The set, named Paint the Sky with Stars: The Best of Enya, features two new tracks, "Paint the Sky with Stars" and "Only If...". Released in November 1997, the album was a worldwide commercial success, reaching No. 4 in the UK and No. 30 in the US, where it went on to sell over 4 million copies. "Only If..." was released as a single in 1997. Enya described the album as "like a musical diary... each melody has a little story and I live through that whole story from the beginning... your mind goes back to that day and what you were thinking."

1998–2007: A Day Without Rain and Amarantine

Enya started work on her fifth studio album, titled A Day Without Rain, in mid-1998. In a departure from her previous albums, she incorporated the use of a string section into her compositions, something that was not a conscious decision at first, but Enya and Nicky Ryan agreed it complemented the songs that were being written. The album was released in November 2000 and reached number 6 in the United Kingdom and an initial peak of number 17 in the United States.

In the aftermath of the 11 September attacks, sales of the album and its lead single, "Only Time", surged after the song was widely used during radio and television coverage of the events, leading to its description as "a post-September 11 anthem". The exposure caused A Day Without Rain to outperform its original chart performance to peak at number 2 on the Billboard 200, and the release of a maxi-single containing the original and a pop remix of "Only Time" in November 2001. Enya donated its proceeds in aid of the International Association of Firefighters. The song topped the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart and went to number 10 on the Hot 100 singles, Enya's highest charting US single to date.

In 2001, Enya agreed to write and perform on two tracks for the soundtrack of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) at the request of director Peter Jackson. Its composer Howard Shore "imagined her voice" as he wrote the film's score, making an uncommon exception to include another artist in one of his soundtracks. After flying to New Zealand to observe the filming and to watch a rough cut of the film, Enya returned to Ireland and composed "Aníron (Theme for Aragorn and Arwen)" with lyrics by Roma in J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional Elvish language Sindarin, and "May It Be", sung in English and another Tolkien language, Quenya. Shore then based his orchestrations around Enya's recorded vocals and themes to create "a seamless sound". In 2002, Enya released "May It Be" as a single which earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. She performed the song live at the 74th Academy Awards ceremony with an orchestra in March 2002, and later cited the moment as a career highlight.

Enya undertook additional studio projects in 2001 and 2002. The first was work on the soundtrack to the Japanese romantic film Calmi Cuori Appassionati (2001) which was subsequently released as Themes from Calmi Cuori Appassionati (2001). The album is formed of tracks spanning her career from Enya to A Day Without Rain with two B-sides. The album went to number 2 in Japan and became Enya's second to sell one million copies in the country.

In September 2003, Enya returned to Aigle Studio to start work on her sixth studio album, Amarantine. Roma said the title means "everlasting". The album marks the first instance of Enya singing in Loxian, a fictional language created by Roma that came about when Enya was working on "Water Shows the Hidden Heart". After numerous attempts to sing the song in English, Irish and Latin, Roma suggested a new language based on some of the sounds Enya would sing along to when developing her songs. It was a success, and Enya sang "Less Than a Pearl" and "The River Sings" in the same way. Roma worked on the language further, creating a "culture and history" behind it surrounding the Loxian people who are of another planet, questioning the existence of life on another. "Sumiregusa (Wild Violet)" is sung in Japanese. Amarantine was a global success, reaching number 6 on the Billboard 200 and number 8 in the UK. It has sold over 1 million certified copies in the US, a considerable drop in sales in comparison to her previous albums. Enya dedicated the album to BBC producer Tony McAuley, who had commissioned Enya to write the soundtrack to The Celts, following his death in 2003. The lead single, "Amarantine", was released in December 2005.

In June 2007, Enya received an honorary doctorate from the National University of Ireland, Galway. A month later, she received one from the University of Ulster.

2008–present: And Winter Came... and Dark Sky Island

Enya continued to write music with a winter and Christmas theme for her seventh studio album, And Winter Came... Initially, she intended to make an album of seasonal songs and hymns set for a release in late 2007 but decided to produce a winter-themed album instead. The track "My! My! Time Flies!", a tribute to the late Irish guitarist Jimmy Faulkner, incorporates a guitar solo performed by Pat Farrell, the first use of a guitar on an Enya album since "I Want Tomorrow" from Enya. The lyrics also include atypical pop-culture references, such as to The Beatles' famous photo shoot for the cover of Abbey Road. Upon its release in November 2008, And Winter Came... reached No. 6 in the UK and No. 8 in the US and sold almost 3.5 million copies worldwide by 2011.

After promoting And Winter Came..., Enya took an extended break from writing and recording music. She spent her time resting, visiting family in Australia, and renovating her new home in the south of France. In March 2009, her first four studio albums were reissued in Japan in the Super High Material CD format with bonus tracks. Her second compilation album, The Very Best of Enya, was released in November 2009 and features songs from 1987 to 2008, including a previously unreleased version of "Aníron" and a DVD compiling most of her music videos to date. In 2013, "Only Time" was used in the "Epic Split" advertisement by Volvo Trucks starring Jean-Claude Van Damme who does the splits while suspended between two lorries.

In 2012, Enya returned to the studio to record her eighth album, Dark Sky Island. Its name refers to the island of Sark, which became the first island to be designated a dark-sky preserve, and a series of poems on islands by Roma Ryan. Upon its release on 20 November 2015, Dark Sky Island went to No. 4 in the UK, Enya's highest charting studio album there since Shepherd Moons went to No. 1, and to No. 8 in the US. A Deluxe Edition features three additional songs. Enya completed a promotional tour of the UK and Europe, the US, and Japan. During her visit to Japan, Enya performed "Orinoco Flow" and "Echoes in Rain" at the Universal Studios Japan Christmas show in Osaka. In December 2016, Enya appeared on the Irish television show Christmas Carols from Cork, marking her first Irish television appearance in over seven years. She sang "Adeste Fideles", "Oiche Chiúin", and "The Spirit of Christmas Past".

In November 2020, a "watch party" video was posted on Enya's official YouTube channel to commemorate the 20th anniversary of A Day Without Rain and included introductory messages from Enya and the Ryans. The trio did the same thing for the 30th anniversary of Shepherd Moons, on 4 November 2021. In his introductory message, Nicky Ryan said that they used the downtime from the COVID-19 pandemic to renovate Aigle Studio and install new recording equipment and instruments, and stated that when the work is finished, Enya will start working on new music.

Musical style

Enya's singing voice is mezzo-soprano. She has cited her musical foundations as "the classics", church music, and "Irish reels and jigs" with a particular interest in Sergei Rachmaninoff, a favorite composer of hers. She has an autographed picture of him in her home. Since 1982, she has recorded her music with Nicky Ryan as producer and arranger and his wife Roma Ryan as a lyricist. While in Clannad, Enya chose to work with Nicky as the two shared an interest in vocal harmonies, and Ryan, influenced by The Beach Boys and the "Wall of Sound" technique that Phil Spector pioneered, wanted to explore the idea of "the multivocals" for which her music became known. According to Enya, "Angeles" from Shepherd Moons has roughly 500 vocals recorded individually and layered. Enya performs all vocals and the majority of instruments in her songs apart from musicians playing percussion, guitar, uilleann pipes, cornet, and double bass. Her early works including Watermark feature numerous keyboards, including the Yamaha KX88 Master, Yamaha DX7, Oberheim Matrix, Akai S900, Roland D-50 (famously used with the Pizzagogo patch in "Orinoco Flow"), and the Roland Juno-60, the latter a particular favorite of hers.

Numerous critics and reviewers classify Enya's albums as new-age music and she has won four Grammy Awards in the category. However, Enya does not classify her music as part of the genre. When asked what genre she would classify her music, her reply was "Enya". Nicky Ryan commented on the new age comments: "Initially it was fine, but it's really not new age. Enya plays a whole lot of instruments, not just keyboards. Her melodies are strong and she sings a lot. So I can't see a comparison." The music video for "Caribbean Blue" and the artwork for The Memory of Trees feature adapted works from artist Maxfield Parrish.

Enya has sung to lyrics in over ten languages, including English, Irish (Gaeilge), Latin, Welsh, French, and Spanish. She has recorded music influenced by works from fantasy author J. R. R. Tolkien, including the instrumental "Lothlórien" from Shepherd Moons. For The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, she sang "May It Be" in English and Tolkien's fictional language Quenya, and sang "Aníron" in another of Tolkien's fictional languages, Sindarin. Amarantine and Dark Sky Island include songs sung in Loxian, a fictional language created by Roma Ryan, that has no official syntax. Its vocabulary was formed by Enya singing the song's notes to which Roma wrote their phonetic spelling.

Enya adopted a composing and songwriting method that has deviated little throughout her career. At the start of the recording process for an album, she enters the studio, forgetting about her previous success, fame, and songs of hers that became hits. "If I did that", she said, "I'd have to call it a day". She then develops ideas on the piano, keeping note of any arrangement that can be worked on further. During her time writing, Enya works a five-day week, takes weekends off, and does not work on her music at home. With Irish as her first language, Enya initially records her songs in Irish as she can express "feeling much more directly" than in English. After some time, Enya presents her ideas to Nicky to discuss what pieces work best, while Roma works in parallel to devise a lyric for the songs. Enya considered "Fallen Embers" from A Day Without Rain a perfect time when the lyrics reflect how she felt while writing the song. In 2008, she newly discovered her tendency to write "two or three songs" during the winter months, work on the arrangements and lyrics the following spring and summer, and then work on the next couple of songs when autumn arrives.

Live performances

Enya says that Warner Music and she "did not see eye to eye" initially as the label imagined her performing on stage "with a piano... maybe two or three synthesizer players and that's it". Enya also explained that the time put into her studio albums causes her to "run overtime", leaving little time to plan for other such projects. She also expressed the difficulty in recreating her studio-oriented sound for the stage. In 1996, Ryan said Enya had received an offer worth almost £500,000 to perform a concert in Japan. In 2016, Enya spoke about the prospect of a live concert when she revealed talks with the Ryans during her three-year break after And Winter Came... (2008) to perform a show at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City that would be simulcast to cinemas worldwide. Before such an event could happen, Nicky suggested that she enter a studio and record "all the hits" live with an orchestra and choir to see how they would sound.

Enya has sung with live and lip-syncing vocals on various talk and music shows, events, and ceremonies throughout her career, usually during her worldwide press tours for each album. In December 1995, she performed "Anywhere Is" at a Christmas concert at Vatican City with Pope John Paul II in attendance, who met and thanked her for performing. In April 1996, Enya performed the same song during her surprise appearance at the fiftieth birthday celebration for Carl XVI Gustaf, the King of Sweden and a fan of Enya's. In 1997, Enya participated in a live Christmas Eve broadcast in London and flew to County Donegal afterward to join her family for their annual midnight Mass choral performance, in which she participates each year. In March 2002, she performed "May It Be" with an orchestra at the year's Academy Awards ceremony. Enya and her sisters performed as part of the local choir Cor Mhuire in July 2005 at St. Mary's church in Gweedore during the annual Earagail Arts Festival.


In 1991, a minor planet first discovered in 1978, 6433 Enya, was named after her. In 2017, a newly discovered species of fish, Leporinus enyae, found in the Orinoco River drainage area, was also named after her.

Personal life

Enya is known for keeping a private lifestyle, saying: "The music is what sells. Not me, or what I stand for... that's the way I've always wanted it". She is not married but has many nieces and nephews and is considered to be an aunt to the Ryans' two daughters, having shared their Artane home for some years. In 1991, she said: "I'm afraid of marriage because I'm afraid someone might want me because of who I am instead of because they loved me... I wouldn't go rushing into anything unexpected, but I do think a great deal about this". A relationship she had with one man ended in 1997, around the time when she considered taking time out of music to have a family but found she was putting pressure on herself over the matter and "gone the route I wanted to go". She declares herself as "more spiritual than religious...I'll pray -- but I mostly enjoy going into churches when they're empty."

Enya Castle
Manderley Castle, Enya's home

In 1997, Enya bought a Victorian Grade A listed castellated mansion in Killiney, County Dublin for an estimated £2.5 million at auction. Formerly known as Victoria Castle and Ayesha Castle, she renamed it Manderley Castle after the house featured in the novel Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. In all, she spent seven years renovating her property and also installed considerable security measures. In 2005, Enya spent around €300,000 on security improvements, covering gaps in the castle's outer wall and installing bollards and iron railings. In October 2005, two people broke into the home; one attacked and tied up one of her housekeepers and left with several of Enya's items after she had raised the alarm in her safe room.

Since the 1980s, Enya has attracted the attention of several stalkers. In 1996, an Italian man who was seen in Dublin wearing a photograph of Enya around his neck stabbed himself outside her parents' pub after being ejected from the premises.


Studio albums

  • Enya (1987) (reissued in 1992 as The Celts)
  • Watermark (1988)
  • Shepherd Moons (1991)
  • The Memory of Trees (1995)
  • A Day Without Rain (2000)
  • Amarantine (2005)
  • And Winter Came... (2008)
  • Dark Sky Island (2015)

Awards and nominations

Billboard Music Awards

Year Nominated work Award Result
2001 Enya Top Billboard 200 Artist - Female Won
Top New Age Artist Won
A Day Without Rain Top Internet Album Nominated
Top New Age Album Won
2002 Won
Enya Top New Age Artist Won
Top Adult Contemporary Artist Nominated

Grammy Awards

Year Nominated work Award Result
1990 "Orinoco Flow" Best New Age Performance Nominated
Best Music Video Nominated
1993 Shepherd Moons Best New Age Album Won
1997 The Memory of Trees Won
2002 A Day Without Rain Won
2003 "May It Be" Best Song Written for Visual Media Nominated
2007 "Drifting" Best Pop Instrumental Performance Nominated
Amarantine Best New Age Album Won
2017 Dark Sky Island Nominated

IFPI Hong Kong Top Sales Music Awards

Year Nominated work Award Result Ref.
2001 A Day Without Rain Top 10 Best Sales Foreign Albums Won

Japan Gold Disc Awards

Year Nominated work Award Result
1990 Enya New Artist of the Year Won
1998 Paint the Sky with Stars Best 3 Albums Won
2001 A Day Without Rain International Pop Album of the Year Won
2002 Themes from Calmi Cuori Appassionati Best 3 Albums Won
2006 Amarantine International Album of the Year Won

World Music Awards

Year Nominated work Award Result
2001 Enya World's Best Selling Irish Artist Won
World's Best Selling New Age Artist Won
2002 Won
World's Best Selling Female Artist Won
World's Best Selling Irish Artist Won
2003 Won
2006 Won

Žebřík Music Awards

Year Nominated work Award Result Ref.
1993 Enya Best International Female Nominated
1997 Nominated
2005 Nominated

Other awards

Year Nominated work Award Result
1989 Enya Brit Award for Best International Artist Nominated
Brit Award for Best International Female Nominated
IRMA Award for Best Female Irish Artist Won
1990 "Orinoco Flow" BMI Award for Citation of Achievement Won
1992 Enya Brit Award for Best International Solo Artist Nominated
1993 Nominated
IRMA Award for Best Female Irish Artist Won
"Book of Days" Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song Nominated
1998 Enya, Nicky Ryan, and Roma Ryan Ivor Novello Award for International Achievement Won
2001 "May It Be" Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Song Won
2001 Broadcast Film Critics Association for Best Original Song Won
2002 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song Nominated
2002 Academy Award for Best Original Song Nominated
2002 Enya American Music Award for Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist Nominated
Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement Won
"Only Time" ECHO Award for Best Single of the Year (International) Won
BDSCertified Spin Awards – 300,000 Spins Won
2003 BMI Award for Citation of Achievement Won
2004 "I Don't Wanna Know" Vibe Award for R&B Song of the Year Nominated
MOBO Award for Best Single Nominated
MOBO Award for Best Ringtone Won
2005 BMI Award for Citation of Achievement Won
2016 Dark Sky Island ECHO Award for Best Female of the Year (International) Nominated

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Enya para niños

  • Honorific nicknames in popular music
  • List of ambient music artists
  • List of artists who reached number one on the UK Singles Chart
  • List of best-selling music artists
  • List of highest-certified music artists in the United States
kids search engine
Enya Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.