Banshee’s are a mythical figure in Irish tradition so it was nice to get to write about them and learn more about them too!
According to Irish tradition, banshee’s can only cry for five major Irish families: the O’Neill’s, the O’Brien’s, the O’Connor’s, the O’Grady’s, and the Kavanagh’s. Despite being of one of the five families I have never heard a banshee cry, though this might be because I’m Canadian and my family immigrated to Canada from around the potato famine time the connection may just be broken.
But my cousins have heard it.
They live in Canada too but the rural area, the area where my family first immigrated. Where the myths and belief still survived despite the Catholic upbringing and the number of churches in the area. They didn’t describe what the cry sounded like (I doubt anyone could) just that they heard it before one of our cousin’s wife died and that the sound could have been mistaken for the wind if you didn’t know what to listen for or made excuses, but it was no wind. It was something striking, something shivering, a warning for death.
Because that’s what banshee’s cry for, for death, more particularly they warn those five mentioned families (though I’ve also read that with marriages with other families the banshee cries for all Irish families) of an upcoming death within the family. She isn’t evil or malevolent like television shows and books turn her into, but she is a warning, and she weeps for the death that will come, she grieves that she has to warn you.
But it’s her job and it’s why she’s so hated, she warns us of death and that’s something we don’t want to think about, know about, be reminded of the fact that we will die. And she isn’t bad for doing that, but she’s blamed.
Banshee can be translated to mean “fairy woman” which is a contrasting vision to the creature we expect. Though she often isn’t described as a fairy, wearing a shroud and crying, and fairies aren’t often associated with death (well, it does depend on the fairy I suppose). But she sings, she cares, she warns. In her own way she cares, and it’s time we stopped associating the banshee with evil.