The Irish Legend of the Banshee

The image that comes to most people’s minds when they hear the word “banshee” or hear the legend of the banshee is that of a floating ghostly banshee figure that wails and is in general quite terrifying. You might also be familiar with the age-old concept that banshees are considered to be portents of impending death. The whole account of the Banshee may be found here.

What is a Banshee?

According to Irish folklore, a banshee is a kind of fairy, and the sound of her wail is considered to be a portent of impending doom. The scream is also known as “caoine,” which literally translates to “keening,” and it serves as a forewarning that there will be an impending death in the family. Furthermore, since Irish families have mixed together throughout the course of history, it is thought that each family has its own Banshee!

How do you pronounce Banshee?

220px-Banshee

The Banshee, pronounced bean-sidhe is the woman of the fairies and may be an ancestral spirit appointed to forewarn members of certain ancient Irish families of their time of death. According to tradition, the banshee creature can only cry for five major Irish families: the O’Neills, the O’Briens, the O’Connors, the O’Gradys, and the Kavanaghs. Intermarriage has since extended this select list.
Whatever her origins, the banshee chiefly appears in one of three guises: a young woman, a stately matron, or a raddled old hag. These represent the triple aspects of the Celtic goddess of war and death, namely Badhbh, Macha, and Mor-Rioghain.) The banshee usually wears either a grey, hooded cloak or the winding sheet or grave robe of the unshriven dead. She may also appear as a washer-woman and is seen apparently washing the blood-stained clothes of those who are about to die. In this guise, the banshee ghost is known as the bean-nighe (washing woman).

Although not always seen, her mourning call is heard, usually at night when someone is about to die.

Does every Irish family hear the banshee?

According to tradition, the banshee can only cry for five major Irish families: the O’Neills, the O’Briens, the O’Connors, the O’Gradys, and the Kavanaghs.

What happens if you hear a banshee scream?

Irish families of their time of death. According to tradition, the banshee can only cry for five major Irish families: the O’Neills, the O’Briens, the O’Connors, the O’Gradys, and the Kavanaghs. Intermarriage has since extended this select list.
Whatever her origins, the banshee chiefly appears in one of three guises: a young woman, a stately matron, or a raddled old hag. These represent the triple aspects of the Celtic goddess of war and death, namely Badhbh, Macha, and Mor-Rioghain.) She usually wears either a grey, hooded cloak or the winding sheet or grave robe of the unshriven dead. She may also appear as a washer-woman and is seen apparently washing the blood-stained clothes of those who are about to die. In this guise, she is known as the bean-nighe (washing woman).
Although not always seen, banshee’s mourning call is heard, usually at night when someone is about to die.

Origins of the Banshee Myth

According to historians, the earliest accounts of the Banshee date back to the eighth century and were based on a ritual in which ladies sang a mournful song to express their condolences over the passing of a loved one. These ladies were known as “keeners,” and since they took alcoholic beverages as payment, they were considered to be sinners. As a result, they were condemned to a life as banshees as their punishment. It is said that if a Banshee is seen, she would quickly disappear into a cloud of mist while making a sound that is comparable to the sound of a bird flapping its wings. This is a part of the legend surrounding the Banshee. According to urban legend, banshees do not bring about death; rather, they just serve as a warning of impending doom.

According to banshee mythology, she is a spirit that does not have a physical body and can take any one of the following forms:

A stunning woman who was wrapped in a shroud.
A slender woman with a white outfit, long red hair, and red lipstick.
A woman who is silver-haired and wears a long garment of silver.
A headless lady is completely nude from the waist up and is carrying a dish of blood.
An elderly lady with eerie red eyes, a green outfit, and long white hair was standing there.
A geriatric lady who was clothed entirely in black and had long, gray hair. She wore a veil over her face.

Banshees Are Both Good and Bad 

There are a few banshees that had deep links to their family in life and remained to look after them after death. These banshees are the exception to the rule that banshees are monsters filled with hatred. When they make their appearance, these Celtic Banshees take the form of beautiful, entrancing ladies who perform a mournful, eerie song that is full of care and love for their family. This song can be heard a few days before a member of the family passes away, and in the vast majority of instances, the song can only be heard by the individual for whom it was written.

On the other hand, there is the Banshee, a terrifying creature that most of us are familiar with. She is furious and terrifying. These ladies, throughout the course of their lives, had reasons to despise their family, and now they emerge as grotesque and terrifying apparitions that are full of animosity. The howls that are coming from these banshees are enough to give you the chills all the way down to your bones, and rather than appearing to warn a member of the family, these banshees are rejoicing in the impending death of someone who they despised.

How do the Banshees get their knowledge?

Nobody knows for certain where banshees obtain the information that a person has passed away; this is a mystery. One idea proposes that each member of the family has a dedicated observer that follows him at all times and relays information on his activities to the Banshee. However, this is a myth that is gradually disappearing, much like the story of the Banshee, which is now considered to be nothing more than a frightening bedtime story.

It wasn’t until many centuries ago that people in Ireland were more likely to believe in banshees, and those who didn’t were seen to be committing blasphemy. Perhaps you have an elderly relative who still subscribes to this concept. If you are enjoying a night out in Ireland and hear a piercing scream, it is unlikely to be the Banshee trying to warn you since the tale of the Banshee belongs to the realm of myth and superstition for the rest of us.

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