Full name

Enya Nibhraonain. It’s Gaelic – the "Ni" bit means "only daughter of" and the other bit is "Brennan", so it means "only daughter of Brennan". There are only some parts of Ireland where people actually speak Irish fluently and I come from one of those areas. My first language is Irish so when I went to school I had to learn to speak English. Now when I go home I revert to speaking in Irish.


17/5/61. I was born in a tiny village called Gweedore which is in County Donegal in the North West region of the Republic Of Ireland. It’s a really wild country, all scattered houses because there aren’t actually villages or anything, so your nearest neighbour is some distance away from you. I lived there until I was 11 and then I went to a really strict boarding school.

Do you have any brothers and sisters?

There’s nine in my family. I have four brothers and four sisters. Máire, Kieran and Paul and two of my uncles are in Clannad [knees a- jerkin’ folkstrels who did the Robin Hood theme tune and something else called ‘In A Lifetime’ with Bono from the U2]. My Mum is a music teacher and my father used to have a showband called the Slieve Foy Dance Band but then he bought a pub. His band was into jazz and it goes back to my grandmother and grandfather because they first had the band and when my grandfather passed away Daddy took on the band and when Mammy married him, she joined it too.

Do you have any pets?

Cats. There’s a cat actually just walking in the door beside me. We’ve always had cats because we lived in the countryside. Did they ever leave rabbits’ innards on the doormat? No they did not! They were very cultured cats. Very considerate.

Were you a milk monitor at school?

Well, at boarding school you’d take turns at the dinner table to go up and get the food, but that was about it. When I went to school it was devastating to be torn away from such a large family, but it was good for my music because I had my first encounter with classical music and I really fell in love with it.

Did you have any useless jobs before you were a pop star?

No, no. Because you see when I actually left school I was 17 and I went straight onto studying music at college and after a year of that I started touring with Clannad, so I’ve never had a nine to five job. I did want to be a music teacher at one time. It just didn’t happen though because as soon as I started to tour I got, you know, the love for the stage, and, you know, the contact with the people and it just took off from there.

Have you ever shaved all your hair off to look like Sinéad O’Connor?

Oh God hhhhnnnnggg… No, no, no. It’d be far too cold. I did read a little passage from the Bible in Irish for her LP but that’s as far as the similarity goes.

Have you ever kissed the Blarney Stone?

The Blarney Stone? No. I’ve never even seen the Blarney Stone. It’s supposed to give you good luck, isn’t it? I’ve really no idea what that’s all about.

Are you any cop at hurling? (i.e. completely mental Irish hockey type thing where large men hit each other with planks of wood or something)

Hurling? Hurling? Do I like hurling? No, I’m not a sports person at all. Not at all. I’m a very serious, moody person and I take myself very seriously. Hurling is not serious enough for me.

Do you believe in the after life?

Yes, now that’s a serious question. I would like to because it’d be nice to know that I’m going to meet up with people who have passed on.

When did you last cry?

Um… yesterday? I’m extremely extremely emotional and I get upset really easily. I can sense immediately when things are happening and I go up and down in mood a great deal. I always argue in the studio because it’s so intense all the time.

Have you got any camping tips?

Any…? Camping? Camping tips ? Oooh no no no… camping. Yuk! How very uncomfortable. I don’t like tents at all. Imagine being in a tent and it’s raining outside. Can you imagine anything worse? Oh dear no. No tips whatsoever.

Do parsnips scream when you chop them?

Parsnips? Parsnips as in the vegetable ? Do they scream? Why, where did you hear that? You made it up? Oh, I see. Well, no then, I don’t think they scream. I’ve never been asked such obscure questions in all my life…

Smash Hits (UK) | 1 November 1988
Transcribed by Peter Warburton