Keening in the Scottish Gàidhealtachd

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Although keening (caoineadh or tuireadh, frequently referred to in Lowland
Scots as coronach) is the most prominent custom historically associated
with death in the Gaelic-speaking regions of Ireland and Scotland, the
significance and all-pervasiveness of ritual lament in their cultures is often
overlooked in Scottish Gaelic scholarship, this contrasts sharply with the situation in Ireland, where historians and folklorists have compiled important studies analysing the practice, investigating its shifting meanings and what it might tell us about the ever-changing world of the living. Drawing upon their insights, I assess the ethnographic evidence for ritual lament in the Scottish Gàidhealtachd since the early modern period, situating keening in relation to other traditional mortuary practices. I conclude by assessing the potential value of caoineadh as an analytical lens with which to appraise changing practices, customs, and beliefs in the Gàidhealtachd, as well as broaching broader concerns involving gender and community relations, and emotional styles, over the past three centuries.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDeath in Scotland
Subtitle of host publicationChapters from the Twelfth Century to the Twenty-First
EditorsPeter Jupp, Hilary Grainger
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherPeter Lang
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-78997-270-2
ISBN (Print)978-1-78997-268-9
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

Publication series

NameStudies in the History and Culture of Scotland
PublisherPeter Lang
ISSN (Print)1661-6863


  • keening
  • Scottish Gàidhealtachd
  • women's history
  • death
  • ritual mourning
  • 26ref2021


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