SHEUCH n., v.
“Sheuch” has various meanings in the Dictionaries of the Scots Language (DSL), from a drainage ditch to a street gutter. One use of the term which has latterly become well-known is given but one line in DSL: “in jocular usage: the North Channel in the Irish Sea between Scotland and Ireland (Uls 1970)”.
We haven’t found anything pre-dating 1970, but in 1997 John Erskine writing in the Cultural Traditions of Northern Ireland notes:
“With only twelve miles of sea separating us, it is little wonder that influences across the sheuch, as the North Channel is referred to colloquially, should be both profound and permanent”.
Later citations begin in 2000 with a March edition of the Belfast Telegraph:
“A hornet’s nest has been stirred up. We’re all only too familiar with the sorry history of our Assembly. Across the sheugh, Scottish Labour had to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats”.
A later example, in Ulster Scots, comes from the Belfast Newsletter of April 2004:
“Frae quhat differ prittas [potatoes] ir cried ye’re fit tae jalouse tha monie o’ thaim wur bred athwort the sheugh i Scotlan.”.
This body of water can also be referred to as the Auld Sheuch.
“In contrast to some of the more grandiose musical extravaganzas which Celtic Connections produces, these two highly respected male-female singing (and domestic) partnerships from either side of the Auld Sheuch showed how peerless traditional singing can hold an audience spellbound.”
(Scotsman, January 2005).
Finally, the Inverness Courier of September 2021 records:
“James Fletcher, who made the 21-mile open sea crossing [on a paddleboard] of the North Channel, or ‘the Sheuch’, from Donaghadee to Portpatrick, had hoped to do it in about four-and-a-half hours.”
This Scots Word of the Week was written by Pauline Cairns Speitel. Visit DSL Online at https://dsl.ac.uk.