DONEGAL singer Enya has spoken of how her native Gaoth Dobhair continues to inspire her music.
The famous singer from the Brennan family was speaking in a rare interview – carried out this week with the prestigious American newspaper the Wall Street Journal.
She told reporter Marc Myers: “The sea has been in my heart since I was a little girl. I grew up in Gaoth Dobhair, an Irish-speaking parish on the Atlantic coast of County Donegal, in the northwest corner of Ireland. The area is known for its rugged cliffs and windswept beaches, and the sea’s moods and spirit still find their way into my music.
“When I was little, Gaoth Dobhair was a rural area and fairly secluded from the rest of Ireland. It’s still pretty much that way today….The parish of Gaoth Dobhair is still quite picturesque. The most recognizable feature is Mount Errigal, which is surrounded by deep glens and lakes. There are six small islands off the coastline, including Gola and Tory, and I’d often take mountain walks and look out at them. We had quite a bit of rain throughout the year, but the rain never bothered me.”
Enya also spoke about her musical influences in her family.
“Music was big in our household,” she said.
“My father, Leo, was the leader of a dance band, and my mother, Maire, was a music teacher and a pianist in his band. They toured a great deal, mostly in Ireland and Scotland. When they did, my grandmother and my mother’s sister took care of us. Naturally, we were spoiled.
“By the time I was 4, I was eager to learn to play the piano. I loved melody, and the piano fascinated me. As a child, music unlocked my imagination, and today I still find music very visual. When I write, it’s like a journey. I never know where I’m going to go. It’s only at the end that I become aware of the song’s main inspiration.
“When I was 5, I began entering singing competitions. The first time I sang was at the local theater. You had to perform two songs, starting with a slow one and finishing with a fast one. They were songs we were taught in primary school. During the concert, my mother was seated at the piano in front of the stage and provided contestants with their starting notes. When it was my turn, I mistakenly began with the fast song. I didn’t realize my error until I saw my mother’s frown. I stopped singing and covered my mouth. There was silence, followed by laughter.
“My mother quickly played the starting note again and I sang the right song. When I finished, there was a pause and I sang the fast song again. I won the contest. I was determined to get it right, and the audience’s laughter didn’t deter me.”
She said going to boarding school at Loreto College in Milford helped her “to hear the sound of my voice and actually enjoyed it”.
She told the newspaper: “Today I divide my time between two homes—one near Dublin overlooking the Irish Sea and the other on the Mediterranean Sea in the south of France. Near Dublin, I live in a Victorian castle that was built in 1840. When I bought it in 1997, there was a lot of work to be done. It took two years to restore it to its charming original state. I also put in large windows to view the sea.
“At my castle, I take long walks. I have to say, one of my favorite views is the moon reflecting on the water at night. It’s spectacular. All that silent glittering on the water, it’s like looking at a secret.”