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ghost stories
Scary and exciting Ghost Stories from around the World . . .
 

Ghost Story Title : The Silent Woman Part-10 By Leopold Kompert

 

Ghost Story:

FOOTNOTE:
[D] Copyright, 1890, by Harper Bros.
BANSHEES[E]
Of all Irish ghosts, fairies, or bogles, the Banshee (sometimes called locally the 'Boh[=ee]ntha' or
'Bank[=ee]ntha') is the best known to the general public: indeed, cross-Channel visitors would class her with pigs, potatoes, and other fauna and flora of Ireland, and would expect her to make manifest her presence to them as being one of the sights of the country. She is a spirit with a lengthy pedigree--how lengthy no man can say, as its roots go back into the dim, mysterious past. The most famous Banshee of ancient times was that attached to the kingly house of O'Brien, Aibhill, who haunted the rock of Craglea above Killaloe, near the old palace of Kincora. In A.D. 1014 was fought the battle of Clontarf, from which the aged king, Brian Boru,
knew that he would never come away alive, for the previous night Aibhill had appeared to him to tell him of his impending fate. The Banshee's method of foretelling death in olden times differed from that adopted by her at the present day: now she wails and wrings her hands, as a general rule, but in the old Irish tales she is to be found washing human heads and limbs, or blood-stained clothes, till the water is all dyed with human blood--this would take place before a battle. So it would seem that in the course of centuries her attributes and
characteristics have changed somewhat.
Very different descriptions are given of her personal appearance. Sometimes she is young and beautiful,
sometimes old and of a fearsome appearance. One writer describes her as 'a tall, thin woman with uncovered
head, and long hair that floated round her shoulders, attired in something which seemed either a loose white
cloak, or a sheet thrown hastily around her, uttering piercing cries.' Another person, a coachman, saw her one
evening sitting on a stile in the yard; she seemed to be a very small woman, with blue eyes, long light hair,
and wearing a red cloak. Other descriptions will be found in this chapter. By the way, it does not seem to be
true that the Banshee exclusively follows families of Irish descent, for the last incident had reference to the
death of a member of a Co. Galway family English by name and origin.
One of the oldest and best-known Banshee stories is that related in the Memoirs of Lady Fanshaw.[F] In 1642
her husband, Sir Richard, and she chanced to visit a friend, the head of an Irish sept, who resided in his
ancient baronial castle, surrounded with a moat. At midnight she was awakened by a ghastly and supernatural
scream, and looking out of bed, beheld in the moonlight a female face and part of the form hovering at the
window. The distance from the ground, as well as the circumstance of the moat, excluded the possibility that
what she beheld was of this world. The face was that of a young and rather handsome woman, but pale, and
the hair, which was reddish, was loose and disheveled. The dress, which Lady Fanshaw's terror did not
prevent her remarking accurately, was that of the ancient Irish. This apparition continued to exhibit itself for
some time, and then vanished with two shrieks similar to that which had first excited Lady Fanshaw's
attention. In the morning, with infinite terror, she communicated to her host what she had witnessed, and
found him prepared not only to credit, but to account for the superstition. 'A near relation of my family,' said
he; 'expired last night in this castle. We disguised our certain expectation of the event from you, lest it should
throw a cloud over the cheerful reception which was your due. Now, before such an event happens in this
family or castle, the female specter whom you have seen is always visible. She is believed to be the spirit of a
woman of inferior rank, whom one of my ancestors degraded himself by marrying, and whom afterwards, to
expiate the dishonor done to his family, he caused to be drowned in the moat.' In strictness this woman could
hardly be termed a Banshee. The motive for the haunting is akin to that in the tale of the Scotch 'Drummer of
Cortachy,' where the spirit of the murdered man haunts the family out of revenge, and appears before a death.
Mr. T.J. Westropp, M.A., has furnished the following 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 any one 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. This occurred
about 1776.'
Mr. Westropp also writes that the sister of a former Roman Catholic Bishop told his sisters that when she was a little girl she went out one evening with some other children for a walk. Going down the road, they passed
the gate of the principal demesne near the town. There was a rock, or large stone, beside the road, on which
they saw something. Going nearer, they perceived it to be a little dark, old woman, who began crying and
clapping her hands. Some of them attempted to speak to her, but got frightened, and all finally ran home as
quickly as they could. Next day the news came that the gentleman near whose gate the Banshee had cried, was
dead, and it was found on inquiry that he had died at the very hour at which the children had seen the specter.
A lady who is a relation of one of the compilers, and a member of a Co. Cork family of English descent, sends
the two following experiences of a Banshee in her family. 'My mother, when a young girl, was standing
looking out of the window in their house at Blackrock, near Cork. She suddenly saw a white figure standing
on a bridge which was easily visible from the house. The figure waved her arms towards the house, and my
mother heard the bitter wailing of the Banshee. It lasted some seconds, and then the figure disappeared. Next
morning my grandfather was walking as usual into the city of Cork. He accidentally fell, hit his head against
the curbstone, and never recovered consciousness.





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