Mournful spirits of beautiful maiden’s that continuously weep at their unknown loss, they are often bound to a family and warn of the inevitable death of a family member. They transform into terrible murderous ghost’s if anyone living tries to prevent them from completing their duty. It is said that the scream of a Banshee can drive a man insane.
Originally an Irish supernatural being of the wraith type. The name implies “female fairy.” She is usually the possession of a specific family, to a member or members of whom she appears before the death of one of them. Unlike many of the legendary beliefs of this kind, the popular accounts illustrative of it are related on the evidence of all sections of the community, many an enlightened and well-informed advocate being enthusiastic in his vindication of its reality. It would seem, however, that no family which is not of an ancient and noble stock is honoured with a visit from a Banshee, and hence its non-appearance has been regarded as an indication of disqualification in this respect on the part of the person about to die. The distinction of a Banshee is only allowed to families of the pure stock, and is never ascribed to any descendant of the proudest Norman or the boldest Saxon who followed the banner of Strongbow, much less to adventurers of later dates who have obtained settlements in Britain. Thus, an amusing story is contained in an Irish elegy to the effect that on the death of one of the Knights of Kerry, when the Banshee was heard to lament his decease at Dingle – a seaport town, the property of those knights – all the merchants of this place were thrown into a state of alarm lest the mournful and ominous wailing should be a forewarning of the death of one of them, but, as the poet humorously points out, there was no necessity for them to be anxious on this point being of common stock.
This weird apparition is generally supposed to assume the form of a woman, sometimes young, but more often old. She is usually attired in a loose black drapery, and her long ragged locks hang over her thin shoulders. As night time approaches she occarionally becomes visible, and pours forth her mournful wail – a sound said to resemble the melancholy moaning of the wind. Oftentimes she is not seen but only heard, yet she is supposed to be always clearly discernible to the person upon whom she specially waits. Respecting the history of the Banshee, popular tradition in many instances accounts for its presence as the spirit of some mortal woman whose destinies have become linked by some accident with those of the family she follows. It is related how the Banshee of the family of the O’Briens of Thomond was originally a woman who had been seduced by one of the chiefs of that clan – an act of indiscretion which ultimately brought about her death.