Banshees are creatures from Irish mythology. It is said that when a citizen from an Irish village died, a woman, also referred to as "keeners", would sing a traditional lament or modern Irish caoineadh (pronounced kweenyah) at their funeral. However, they can only cry for five great Gaelic families: the O'Gradys, the O'Neills, the O'Briens, the O'Connors, and the Kavanaghs (this list has extended with intermarriages). Tales recount a fairy woman was associated with them and would make an appearance after a death in the family, making an appearance or sound to intimation of the death.

When these narratives were first translated into English, a distinction between the "banshee" and other fairy folk was introduced. However, this distinction did not exist in the original stories in their Gaelic forms. The funeral lament became a mournful cry or wail. A death in the family or one's own death was predicted upon hearing this wail or seeing the banshee. In 1437, King James I of Scotland was approached by an Irish seeress who fortold his murder by the instigation of the Earl of Atoll. That isn't the only record of banshees or prophetess in human form. There are several attending the great houses of Ireland and the courts of local Irish Kings.

A banshee's appearance differs among stories. They basically dress in white with long, fair hair which they brush with a silver comb (possibly a detail confused with mermaid myths). They have also been known to dress in green or black with a grey cloak. Although, she appears in many forms: a young woman, a stately matron, or a raddled old hag. These three forms are said to represent the triple aspects of the Celtic goddess of war and death known as Badhbh, Macha and Mor-Rioghain. She may also appear as a washer-woman, washing the blood stain clothes of those who are about to die. In that form, she is known as bean-nighe. Banshees have also been known to take animal form that of a hooded crow, stoat, hare and weasel. These animals were associated with witchcraft in Ireland.


Anonymous said…
I hope I never go to Ireland because you never know when you are going to see a banshee. Don't ever go to that guys quiet spot and look at the river what ever you do just saying people and I hope yall can write back to me any time soon thank you all who took the time to read my comment and ask me questions about my comment and I'll try to get back to yall as soon as possible thank yall sooooooooo much <3
paul g said…
If people visit Ireland they are not necessarily going to see or hear a banshee. I've lived here all my life and have only twice heard the wail of the banshee. The first time I was very young and hid under the duvet shaking with fear. The second time was about 10yrs ago. I was going to work one morning around 4.30am when I heard this awful wailing. I walked down my street not daring to turn my head in the direction of the wailing which was coming from the back of the houses. Banshees mean no harm to humans, they only appear to warn of the death of members of certain families. Though I have been told by my old aunts and uncles that if you were to come across a banshee you should just pass it by and do not try to attack it or interfere with it in any way as bad luck may come your way.
Anonymous said…
I've lived in Ireland all my life in the countryside where its littered with streams and lonely areas. I've never heard a banshee's wail but when my mothers aunt died in America she said she'd return and return she did. She came to the door fo her sister and told her her husband was about to die, two weeks later he was laid to rest in the local cemetary.

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