Banshee

Banshee also called a Ban Sith, or “woman of the fairies,” in Scots Gaelic; a Bean Sidhe in Irish Gaelic; and a gwrach y Rhibyn (“the witch of Rhibyn”) in Welsh, the banshee is a female spirit or ghost whose cry, wail, scream, or keening is said to tell of an imminent death. According to Celtic folklore, the spirit’s unearthly sounds, which can be heard only at night, are meant as a warning to the doomed person and/or his or her loved ones. Although not always seen, her mourning call is heard, usually at night when someone is about to die and usually around woods. In 1437, King James I of Scotland was approached by an Irish seer or banshee who foretold his murder at the instigation of the Earl of Atholl. This is an example of the banshee in human form. There are records of several human banshees attending the great houses of Ireland and the courts of local Irish kings. In some parts of Leinster, she is referred to as the bean chaointe (keening woman) whose wail can be so piercing that it shatters glass.

In Kerry in the southwest of Ireland, her keen is experienced as a "low, pleasant singing"; in Tyrone in the north, as "the sound of two boards being struck together"; and on Rathlin Island as "a thin, screeching sound somewhere between the wail of a woman and the moan of an owl". The banshee may also appear in a variety of other forms, such as that of a hooded crow, stoat, hare and weasel - animals associated in Ireland with witchcraft. Banshees have been a part of oral tradition in the British Isles for centuries, and beliefs regarding the beings were also documented in such works as Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland (1825–1828) by Thomas Croker and Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft (1830) by Sir Walter Scott. According to Celtic tradition, banshees also watch over the person or families to which they have attached themselves.

One of the best-known cases of a family banshee is the Rossmore banshee of County Monaghan, Ireland, which has wailed shortly before the death of every Rossmore heir since 1801. The first of many Rossmores to trigger the banshee wail was also the first Baron Rossmore, General Robert Cunningham. While he was lying ill in his bed, family members heard odd keening and shrieking, followed by cries of “Rossmore! Rossmore!” outside their estate. Within half an hour, the baron had died.

Banshees are frequently described as dressed in white or grey, often having long, fair hair which they brush with a silver comb, a detail scholar Patricia Lysaght attributes to confusion with local mermaid myths. This comb detail is also related to the centuries-old traditional romantic Irish story that, if you ever see a comb lying on the ground in Ireland, you must never pick it up, or the banshees (or mermaids — stories vary), having placed it there to lure unsuspecting humans, will spirit such gullible humans away. Other stories portray banshees as dressed in green, red, or black with a grey cloak.

Sources :
The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena by Patricia D. Netzley;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banshee

Pic Source : Encyclopedia of the Undead by Dr. Bob Curan page 265
Banshee Banshee Reviewed by Tripzibit on 05:15 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. I've heard so many derivatives of the expression "scream like a banshee", including ludicrous ones like "hurt like a banshee" - funny how sayings get so distorted.

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