“Er… pardon?” says the immaculate lady with the soft Irish accent that turns grown men into mumbling jellyfish (well, Phillip Schofield looked about to buckle at the knees when he talked to her the other day!). Yep, we’ve got a rum’n here and no mistake. Enya is the latest in a long line of girlies to top the charts this year, but is she like any of the others? Is she heck! She’s barely heard of Kylie, doesn’t buy records and doesn’t even like music! She is quite partial to a glass of champagne, though… Jaynie Senior helps her celebrate.

Is Enya your real name?

Enya is a phonetic spelling of my name. The Irish spelling is Eithne. I’m a native Irish speaker so when I look at English words I often pronounce them the Irish way.

Do you speak Irish when you go home?

All the time. If I spend a week at home I find it really difficult to change back to English.

What is your home town like?

My home town Gweedore is so beautiful. It’s in the north west of Ireland and nobody speaks English. It’s right on the coast with beautiful beaches, mountains, valleys and cliffs. It’s really wild because of the weather. It’s always raining. Everything’s green and fresh and so quiet.

What are the people like?

They’re very laidback. There’s no such thing as time there. It’s one of those places where the women all get married and have lots of children.

Don’t they envy your lifestyle?

Some of them are very envious because going on television and flying off to London sounds very glamorous. If they saw the other side – getting up at six in the morning and all the hours you spend in the studio – they’d think “Oh dear, I would never do that!” But they just see me doing interviews and wearing designer clothes.

Do you think women in pop have a hard time?

Yes, they do. Definitely. Fortunately, because I write and perform much of the music I’m taken more seriously than the girls who just walk into a studio, do a vocal and that’s it. I can’t even imagine what that would be like.

How do you rate the S/A/W girls like Kylie and Sabrina?

I really don’t have any time for their music. I only hear it if I’m in a taxi or a hotel lobby. Teenagers buy that stuff because they want to dance to it. It’s their hobby. Teenagers have always wanted to dance.

Did you?

Oh yes, I would have, but when I was younger I was cut off because I went to a boarding school. It was strict at school so we didn’t really hear a lot of music.

Were you happy at school?

I’m happy about some aspects but I always have recurring nightmares about it. Last night I dreamt that the nuns came in and said “You’ve got to come back to school now”, and I said “But I’ve got an interview to do tomorrow”. But they just said “It doesn’t matter – you’ve got to come back to boarding school.”

The nuns were extremely strict. Every moment of your day was allocated for something. If you were walking down a corridor, it meant that you were in the wrong place at the wrong time and you were questioned. You would have to have a very good excuse. Luckily there were day pupils as well so there were some boys there too. That’s good because if you’re a teenager at an all girls’ school, boys become such a giggly topic of conversation.

Do you prefer male or female company now?

Definitely male. Sometimes women’s conversations are so incredibly gossipy and boring. Men are more interested to hear what you’ve got to say, whereas with girls you just can’t get a word in. You just have to give up.

Is it true that you’ve never bought a record in your life?

I was asked the question “What was the first single you ever bought?” and I thought “I have never bought a single or an album”. Even as a teenager! It’s strange. I don’t like listening to music. People find it hard to understand that.

Are you isolated from the outside world?

Well, I get so little free time that it’s very precious. Usually I want to spend it on my own. I like to just sit in the quiet. Sometimes I go outside the studio, see ordinary people with nine-to-five jobs and I’m envious. But sometimes I think “Oh, God help them!”.

Do you ever fly into a temper?

All of the time. I’m very stubborn. When I’m working I have the most tremendous arguments. If I feel strongly about something I will not budge. If I don’t like it, that’s it, and you won’t change my mind.

Do the press ever upset you?

In Ireland they tried to make out that some sort of Svengali figure had me locked away in a wee cocoon just because I don’t like to go night-clubbing. They don’t like that in Dublin. If you’re an ‘In’ person, you’ve got to share it with everybody, you’ve got to stand and pose with them. They started saying “Oh, poor thing, they won’t let her out of her locked rooms.” I found that very hurtful.

What’s the ideal way to celebrate getting a Number One record?

Very quietly, with a bottle of champagne. I like drinking champagne and very dry white wine.

Not Guinness?

No, no, no! I don’t like it. Irish Guinness is superb but it’s not my cup of tea.

What’s the most satisfying part of being Enya?

It’s when someone comes up and says “Your album is wonderful and it has made me so happy”. All the months of work go out of the door and you think “It was worth it”.


Enya spent her early career as a member of Clannad, the folkies who had hits with the themes from Harry’s Game and Robin Hood. There were billions of people in Clannad, and they were all Enya’s family!

The Song

Odd as it may seem, ‘Orinoco Flow’ has nothing to do with the Wombles or the famous river in South America, but it is actually named after the studios where Enya recorded it. If you look ever so closely at the lyrics you will count 14 faraway places (like Peru, Bali and Fiji) and the name of one Rob Dickens Esquire, the Big Boss of WEA Records, Enya’s label. Quite why we’re not totally sure!

Enya Fax

Name: Eithne Ni Bhraonain. The surname is Gaelic for ‘only daughter of Brennan’.

Age: 27.

Date Of Birth: May 17, 1961.

Starsign: I’m a Taurus.

Lives: For the last six years I’ve lived in Dublin but I was born in Gweedore, County Donegal.

Brothers and sisters: The oldest three are in Clannad, the next girl is an artist. Then the next boy is a roadie and a tour manager. And the youngest ones… one is a chef, one an electrician and the very youngest is still humming and haaa-ing. They’re all musically inclined.

Father: He used to be in a showband, but now he runs a pub in Donegal.

Grandparents: My grandparents were the teachers at my first school, which I went to when I was three years old.

Pets: I’ve got a cat. I love cats, at one stage I had 12. It was just bliss. They’d all lie around in the sun and then come up and climb around my neck.

Food: I don’t eat red meat. I eat fish and lots of vegetables. I’ve been told I’m a very good cook but take forever to prepare one meal. Everything has to be absolutely perfect and nobody is allowed into the kitchen.

Music: Listening to other people’s music frightens me. It scares me because I think I’m in the wrong business if that’s the type of music the public wants.

Bono: Bono saw us live when he was still in short trousers. They played a gig at his school. “Now in Dublin all the bands feel as if they must have Bono’s blessing. He’s a great guy but we’ve steered away from all that.”

Hobbies: I just love black and white movies.

Clothes: I love buying clothes but it has to be because they suit me, not to create an image.

Number One (UK): November 2, 1988
Janie Senior

Transcribed by Peter Warburton