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18 June 2014
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Myths and Legends
The Brahan Seer: The Gaelic Nostradamus

There’s no documentation of a Coinneach Odhar ever having existed in the Highlands during the 17th century. But there is in the 16th century. Parliamentary records from 1577 show that two writs were issued for the arrest of the “principal enchanter” Coinneach Odhar. Aside from oral tradition, these writs are the only evidence that a man called Coinneach actually existed. However, the story behind them is a great deal more sinister than the legend leads us to believe.

View from Chanonry Point, where the Seer was executed.
© SCRAN
In the 1500s Catherine Ross of Balnagowan married Robert Mor Munro of Foulis. Munro already had six children by his first wife and Catherine went on to give him six more. A deadly combination of beauty and deceit, Catherine was ambitious for her sons to inherit the wealth of the clan over her step-sons. Catherine recruited 26 witches to dispose of her rivals and when their crude methods failed to yield results she sent for Coinneach Odhar.

Coinneach was reputedly a gypsy and supplied Catherine with the poison to complete the job. At this stage however, the police were summoned and the records show that while many of the witches were caught and burnt what happened to Coinneach is still a mystery.


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Internet Links
The Brahan Seer
Encyclopaedia of the Celts
–Has a listing for the Brahan Seer
Clan MacKenzie's Brahan Seer Pages
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