Shanachie Records was founded in 1975 by Richard Nevins and Dan Collins. The label is named for shanachie, an Irish 'story teller'.
According to Harvey Pekar, it is one of the largest independent record labels in the world, and is currently distributed by E1 Entertainment Distribution. Starting as a record label that specialized in fiddle music, they began releasing work by Celtic groups such as Planxty, Clannad. Other genres on the label include Latin American, African music, soul, country and ska. In 1989 they acquired Yazoo Records from Nick Perls. This allowed them to release vintage jazz and blues recordings. Today, they have another imprint, Shanachie Jazz. In 1992 Shanachie began releasing cds by folk singer-songwriters, and has released cds by Richard Shindell, Dolores Keane, John Stewart, Rod MacDonald, Richard Meyer, Karan Casey, Sue Foley, Four Bitchin' Babes and other singer-songwriters.
Shanachie Records is primarily a reggae label, licensing and releasing music from artists such as Rita Marley, Yabby You, The Mighty Diamonds, Lucky Dube, Max Romeo, and John Brown's Body throughout the years. Shanachie was also the U.S. liaison for the UK-based reggae label, Greensleeves Records, until about 1987. Shanachie also issued material for Augustus Pablo under the Message imprint of his company, Rockers International.