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The Banshee   By: (1872-1965)

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First Page:

E text prepared by Suzanne Shell and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team (http://www.pgdp.net) from page images generously made available by Internet Archive/American Libraries (http://www.archive.org/details/americana)

Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive/American Libraries. See http://www.archive.org/details/banshee 00odon

THE BANSHEE

by

ELLIOT O'DONNELL

Author of "Haunted Places in England," "The Irish Abroad," "Twenty Years Experiences As a Ghost Hunter," Etc., Etc.

London and Edinburgh Sands & Company

CONTENTS

CHAP. PAGE

I. THE DEFINITION AND ORIGIN OF BANSHEES 9

II. SOME HISTORICAL BANSHEES 20

III. THE MALEVOLENT BANSHEE 35

IV. THE BANSHEE ABROAD 51

V. CASES OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY 62

VI. DUAL AND TRIPLE BANSHEE HAUNTINGS 80

VII. A SIMILAR CASE FROM SPAIN 98

VIII. THE BANSHEE ON THE BATTLE FIELD 124

IX. THE BANSHEE AT SEA 136

X. ALLEGED COUNTERPARTS OF THE BANSHEE 149

XI. THE BANSHEE IN POETRY AND PROSE 176

XII. THE BANSHEE IN SCOTLAND 196

XIII. MY OWN EXPERIENCES WITH THE BANSHEE 232

ADDENDA 247

THE BANSHEE

CHAPTER I

THE DEFINITION AND ORIGIN OF BANSHEES

In a country, such as Ireland, that is characterised by an arrestive and wildly beautiful scenery, it is not at all surprising to find something in the nature of a ghost harmonising with the general atmosphere and surroundings, and that something, apparently so natural to Ireland, is the Banshee.

The name Banshee seems to be a contraction of the Irish Bean Sidhe, which is interpreted by some writers on the subject "A Woman of the Faire Race," whilst by various other writers it is said to signify "The Lady of Death," "The Woman of Sorrow," "The Spirit of the Air," and "The Woman of the Barrow."

It is strictly a family ghost, and most authorities agree that it only haunts families of very ancient Irish lineage. Mr McAnnaly, for instance, remarks (in the chapter on Banshees in his "Irish Wonders"): "The Banshee attends only the old families, and though their descendants, through misfortune, may be brought down from high estate to ranks of peasant farmers, she never leaves nor forgets them till the last member has been gathered to his fathers in the churchyard."

A writer in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Arch├Žological Society (Vol. V., No. 44, pp. 227 229) quotes an extract from a work entitled "Kerry Records," in which the following passage, relating to an elegiac poem written by Pierse Ferriter on Maurice Fitzgerald, occurs: "Aina, the Banshee who never wailed for any families who were not of Milesian blood, except the Geraldines, who became 'more Irish than the Irish themselves'; and in a footnote (see p. 229) it is only 'blood' that can have a Banshee. Business men nowadays have something as good as 'blood' they have 'brains and brass,' by which they can compete with and enter into the oldest families in England and Ireland. Nothing, however, in an Irishman's estimation, can replace 'blue blood.'"

Sir Walter Scott, too, emphasises this point, and is even more specific and arbitrary. He confines the Banshee to families of pure Milesian stock, and declares it is never to be found attached to the descendants of the multitudinous English and Scotch settlers who have, from time to time, migrated to Ireland; nor even to the descendants of the Norman adventurers who accompanied Strongbow to the Green Isle in the twelfth century.

Lady Wilde[1] goes to the other extreme and allows considerable latitude. She affirms that the Banshee attaches itself not only to certain families of historic lineage, but also to persons gifted with song and music... Continue reading book >>




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