Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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SHENACHIE, n. Also sean(n)achie, sen(n)achi(e), sennachai, -chy; sheanachie, shan(n)achie, -y. Orig. a professional recorder and reciter of family history, genealogy, traditions, etc., attached to the household of a clan chieftain or person of high rank, now a teller of traditional stories from the Celtic heroic legends. [′ʃɛnəxi] Sc. 1716 W. Macfarlane Geneal. Coll. (S.H.S.) I. 118:
This Family [Maclean] had their Shenachies and Bards as every Family of Distinction in the Highlands had. . . . Mr John Beaton the Last of the Shenachies.
Sc. 1771 Smollett Humphry Clinker, Melford to Phillips (3 Sept.):
At the grave the orator, or senachie, pronounced the panegyric of the defunct.
Per. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 II. 462:
The country shenachies, or historians, who, in general can best account for these things.
Sc. 1828 Scott F.M. Perth xxviii.:
The Seanachie recited the geneaogy of the tribe.
w.Sc. 1862 J. F. Campbell Tales IV. 16:
A Shanachie means a teller of old tales and traditions.
Sc. 1876 W. F. Skene Celtic Scot. I. 490:
The boy king then received the homage of the feudal baronage of the kingdom, and a strange ceremony followed, probably now for the first time, and intended to mark the cordial acceptance of the king by the entire Gaelic population as the heir and inheritor of a long line of traditionary Gaelic monarchs. A Highland sennachy advanced and kneeling before the fatal stone, hailed him as the ‘Ri Alban', and repeated his pedigree according to Highland tradition through a long line of Gaelic kings, partly real and partly mythic, till he reached ‘Gaithal Glas', the ‘eponymus' of the race.
Arg. 1896 N. Munro Lost Pibroch 140:
How Diarmaid got the old place is a sennachie's tale.
Sc. 1940 Folk-Lore LI. 151:
Certain phrases recur frequently with little variation. Analysis however sometimes reveals a peculiar trait and the parallels are instructive, one learns by these to detect a tradition of great age and features of an art practised by generations of “seanachies”.
Sc. 1963 Proc. Brit. Acad. (1962) 401:
He was von Haus aus a lover of stories and story-telling, a born court shenachie, had his lot been cast in the Middle Ages.

[O.Sc. schenachy, id., 1450, Gael., Ir. seanachaidh, a teller of old tales (seanachas).]

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"Shenachie n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 14 Jul 2020 <>



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