Roma is Enya’s lyricist. She is married to Nicky Ryan.
Roma first met Enya in 1978 through her boyfriend Nicky who was managing Clannad at the time. When Enya left the family group, she moved to Dublin to live with Nicky and Roma.
It was Roma who sent a tape of Enya’s early piano melodies to the British film producer David Puttman. Intrigued, he proposed Enya to compose a 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
Roma writes my voice, I sing her heart.
Nicky makes everything happen.Enya
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. That’s all you can ask.Roma in her book of answers, 2005 (enya.com)
‘Ask me anything’ interview
Watch Roma answer questions about herself submitted by fans.
Inspiration behind lyrics
Roma explains stories and inspiration behind the songs in liner notes that accompany 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 then 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 chorus staying 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 attempted to write lyrics for the track in Latin, Gaelic and English but were disappointed with the results. The first Loxian phrase created by Roma was "syoombraaya" meaning "water shows the hidden heart".
You try things in English or Gaelic and sometimes it just doesn’t sound right, so after writing in Tolkien’s Elvish I thought I’d try my own language. It meant we could create the right sounds and words for Enya’s voice so the poetry of the lyrics sit on the curves of the music. Roma, 2005
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 include many devious puzzles.
Water Shows the Hidden Heart
Shortly after the release of ‘Amarantine‘, Roma self-published her first book ‘Water Shows the Hidden Heart’ that further developed the story of the Loxians introduced on the album. This limited hard-cover edition featured a foreword by Enya, background to the songs of the Loxians and a selection of Roma’s poems. The book was later reprinted and included in the Deluxe Collector’s Edition of the 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 Amarantine flower 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.
Favourite poets: Pablo Neruda (Chile), Ted Hughes (England) and Octavio Paz (Mexico)