I can’t think about Saint Patrick’s Day without thinking about leprechauns and I can’t think about leprechauns without thinking of the Disney movie, “Darby O’Gill and the Little People.” Do you remember that movie? I think it was Sean Connery’s first film and he was a fine-looking, strapping young man. Like some other Disney movies, it was pretty scary. I remember the Banshee scene scared me for weeks. If you haven’t seen it, here’s a peek:
The Banshee legend didn’t appear with the Disney movie, the Banshee has had a long and illustrious reputation in the annals of Irish history. The most famous Banshee of ancient times actually had a name, Aibhill. Aibhill was attached to the royal house of O’Brien and haunted the rock of Craglea above Killaloe. Before the battle of Clontarf, the king, Brian Boru, had a visit from Aibhill who told him that he would die in battle. And, unfortunately, Aibhill was right.
Another story occurred during the late 1700s. This story was shared by a woman who heard it directly from one of the witnesses and it has been passed on as a family story.
“My maternal grandmother heard the following tradition from her mother, one of the Miss Ross-Lewins, who witnessed the occurrence. Their father, Mr. Harrison Ross-Lewin, was away in Dublin on law business, and in his absence the young people went off to spend the evening with a friend who lived some miles away. The night was fine and lightsome as they were returning, save at one point where the road ran between trees or high hedges not far to the west of the old church of Kilchrist. The latter, like many similar ruins, was a simple oblong building, with long side-walls and high gables, and at that time, it and its graveyard were unenclosed, and lay in the open fields. As the party passed down the long dark lane they suddenly heard in the distance loud keening and clapping of hands, as the country-people were accustomed to do when lamenting the dead. The Ross-Lewins hurried on, and came in sight of the church, on the side wall of which a little gray-haired old woman, clad in a dark cloak, was running to and fro, chanting and wailing, and throwing up her arms. The girls were very frightened, but the young men ran forward and surrounded the ruin, and two of them went into the church, the apparition vanishing from the wall as they did so. They searched every nook, and found no one, nor did anyone pass out. All were now well scared, and got home as fast as possible. On reaching their home, their mother opened the door, and at once told them that she was in terror about their father, for, as she sat looking out the window in the moonlight, a huge raven with fiery eyes lit on the sill, and tapped three times on the glass. They told her their story, which only added to their anxiety, and as they stood talking, taps came to the nearest window, and they saw the bird again. A few days later news reached them that Mr. Ross-Lewin had died suddenly in Dublin.”
Another story, closer to the 1900s, tells about a strange incident that happened in a boarding school in Ireland. A young boy had become ill and was placed in an isolation room, as to not infect the other students. A doctor came to see him and, during the course of the examination, the child sat up in his bed and said that he had heard someone crying. The doctor hadn’t heard anything and assumed the sound had more to do with the boy’s illness than anything else. But, the child insisted and then added, “It is the Banshee, as I have heard it before.”
The following morning, the head-master received a telegram saying that the boy’s brother had been accidentally shot dead.
The good news is, according to experts, that the Banshee never manifests itself to the person whose death it is predicting. So, you might be scared to death, but that’s not the death the Banshee was predicting. See – good news!