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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SHENACHIE, n. Also sean(n)achie, seanachaidh, sen(n)achi(e), sennachai, -chy; sheanachie, shan(n)achie, -y. Also attrib. 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.
wm.Sc. 1988 Christine Marion Fraser Storm over Rhanna (1990) 135:
... as they listened in eager silence to the tales he had to tell. Good stories they were too. Forbye entertaining children he had been one of the best seanachaidhs on Rhanna, keeping everyone spellbund at winter firesides ...
Sc. 1991 John McDonald in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 91:
close-mooths yeuky wi the unkent;
fain tae drap their gett -
a drucken stramash, or a steive corp.
Nou braks the incaain o a trumpet:
shenachy; warlock, wabbin frae's ain sowl
the dumfounerin sang.
Gangrel in a caller airt
w.Lth. 2000 Davie Kerr A Puckle Poems 70:
Sae, come aa ye seanachie poets
an tell o the vision ye see, ...

[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 22 May 2024 <>



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