Enya began her musical career in 1980, when she briefly joined her family band Clannad before leaving to perform solo.
Enya is a four-time Grammy Award-winning singer, an Academy Award-nominated songwriter, and Ireland’s best-selling solo artist (her record sales stand at 80 million as of 2009). As a musical group, Enya is a collaboration between three people: Enya herself, who composes and performs the music; Nicky Ryan, who produces the albums, and Roma Ryan, who writes the lyrics in various languages.
Enya is an approximate transcription of how Eithne is pronounced in her native Irish, in the Donegal dialect. “Eithne” comes from Irish mythology and was chosen by Enya’s grandfather.
In 1997, Enya bought a castle in Killiney, south of Dublin, for £2.5million, and named it Manderley after the house in her favourite book, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. Beginning with Watermark, Enya began to attract the attention of stalkers, several of whom succeeded in breaking into her castle and attacking some of the staff. As a result, Enya spent an estimated £250,000 on security measures for her home. In 1996, a man who had been seen in Dublin wearing her photograph around his neck stabbed himself after being ejected from her parents’ pub in Co Donegal.
Enya is known for keeping a low profile and very 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 has no children and has never married. In a 1991 interview, at age 30, 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”. Her relationship with a Spanish man ended in 1997.
In 2006, Enya ranked third in a list of the wealthiest Irish entertainers with an estimated fortune of £75 million, and No. 95 in the Sunday Times Rich List of the richest 250 Irish people. The 2016 edition, which listed its top 50 “Music Millionaires of Britain and Ireland”, she emerged as the richest female singer with a fortune of £91 million for a place at No. 28.