Enya, Ireland’s biggest- selling solo artist, brought a touch of Christmas spirit to Cork yesterday ahead of her first appearance on Irish TV in a decade.

The Donegal-born singer, who has sold more than 80m albums worldwide and who guards her privacy intensely, posed for Irish Examiner staff photographer Denis Minihane during a break in recording for a Christmas TV special in the historic Honan Chapel at University College Cork (UCC).

Enya spent the day in the landmark chapel, which celebrated its centenary last weekend, recording carols, including ‘Adeste Fideles’, and a stunning version of ‘Oiche Chiúin’.

Roger Childs, head of RTÉ religious programmes, said they are delighted the star agreed to appear in the show, which will be screened in the days before Christmas, and again on Christmas Day.

“We thought the setting would appeal to her,” said Mr Childs. “We asked, and she agreed. The time was right, the setting was right, and it’s been really great.”

UCC president Michael Murphy spoke to the enigmatic star about the features of the chapel built in 1916, famous for its mosaic floor and 19 stained-glass windows.

The one-hour Christmas Carols from Cork TV special, hosted by Mary Kennedy, will also feature soprano Celine Byrne, singing ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’; Brian Kennedy performing ‘Little Drummer Boy’; The Gloaming’s Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill; The Priests; and dance group Prodijig.

Enya released her first solo album, Watermark, in 1988, which featured the global hit, ‘Orinoco Flow’.

Mr Childs hopes people will tune in for the show.

“The acoustics of the chapel are perfect,” he said. “ You can’t look in any direction without finding a treasure. It lends itself perfectly to a show of this kind.”

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