Roma writes my voice, I sing her heart. Nicky makes everything happen. -Enya
Roma Ryan is Enya's lyricist.
Roma met Enya in 1978 when Nicky was managing Enya's family's band Clannad. After the trio left the group, Enya moved to live with her and Nicky to Artane, Dublin. It was Roma who first sensed that Enya's music was very visual and sent a tape of her early piano melodies to the British film producer David Puttman. Interested by the music, he hired Enya to write sweet, romantic soundrack for his next movie. It was back then when Roma wrote words to 'The Frog Prince', those being her first lyrics for Enya. Enya often says that she has no desire to write her own lyrics because Roma can sense emotions in her melodies so well and express them so beautifully.
At first we worked on soundtracks, so there was no need for lyrics.
So I used to dedicate and focus mainly on melody. And then when it
came that we were asked for lyrics to write a song I felt I had given
everything I wanted towards the melody, and I had no inclination or
desire to try and translate my emotions in lyrics. But at this stage I
was living with Nicky and Roma, and Roma got to know me very well,
and she'd been working on the project with me, and she felt that she
could conjure the feelings that I was feeling through the melody and
what I wanted to say in lyrics, and that's how it came about, how she
started to write the lyrics.
-Enya for ABC, 1992 (enyabookofdays.com)
Roma explains stories and inspiration behind the songs in liner notes accompanying the albums. They can be found in collections, some music books and promotional boxes.
For the most part I find I write about personal experiences which are translated into lyric. Some are experiences, some are hopes or dreams.
Occasionally Enya will express a wish for a certain theme, such as when she wanted the song "Smaointe" or "Smaoineamh" (which means "Thoughts") to
be dedicated to her grandparents, to be written about her grandparents, to whom she was very close. Or Nicky might suggest or ask for certain
sounds or words that he wants in a piece (that's always the most challenging!) But
generally I have a blank canvas, so to speak.
-Roma in her book of answers, 2005 (enya.com)
When working on the 'Lord of the Rings' soundtrack, Roma studied Tolkien's Elvish languages Sindarin and Quenya. She wrote lyrics for 'Aniron (I desire)' in Sindarin and lyrics for 'May It Be' in Quenya. 'May It Be' was later reworked and released in English, only two phrases of the song stayed in Quenya. Inspired by this experience, she created a fictional language Loxian that can be heard on 'Amarantine'. Roma developed Loxian while writing lyrics for the track 'Water shows the hidden heart'. Roma and Enya had attempted to write lyrics for the track in Latin, Gaelic and English and were disappointed with the results. The first Loxian phrase created by Roma was "Syoombraaya" meaning "Water Shows the Hidden Heart".
Roma creates and coordinates the Loxian Games, a series of online treasure hunts based on the Loxian world and language. They are hosted on the official enya website and there are many Enya-related prizes to be won.
In 2005 shortly after the release of 'Amarantine', Roma self-published her first book entitled 'Water Shows the Hidden Heart'
that further developed the story of the Loxians. This limited hard-cover
edition featured a foreword by Enya, background to the songs of the Loxians and a selection of Roma's lovely poems.
The book was later reprinted and included in the Deluxe Collector's Edition of Amarantine boxed set.
The second edition omitted Enya's introduction and added colour images and a different selection of Roma's poetry.
Both editions are now out of print.
Roma is also a visual artist, some examples of her artwork may be viewed on her official website. The image on the right
is a represention of the everlasting flower Amarantine created with the song's lyrics.
Roma sometimes appears at press conferences and was interviewed in both 'A Life in Music' documentary and 'And Winter Came' electronic press kit. She also provides the majority of Aigle's contact with fans on the official Enya website and the Unity forum.
Back in 2005, Roma answered 20 questions submitted by fans. Her book of answers is no longer available but I wanted to share part of her response to "How would you describe yourself?" here:
I love knowledge. I love learning. I love the discovery of something new.
I love naming things. I love secrets and codes. I love books. I love art. (...) I love being with people who have a good sense of humour. I am all for people who try their best, regardless of outcome.
Thatís all you can ask.
-Roma in her book of answers, 2005 (enya.com)
|Name||Roma Shane Ryan|
|Born in||Belfast, Northern Ireland|
Hope Has a Place
Paint the Sky with Stars
|Favourite poets||Pablo Neruda (Chile)
Ted Hughes (England)
Octavio Paz (Mexico)