'In March, 1900, my mother was very ill, and one evening the nurse and I were with her arranging her bed.
We suddenly heard the most extraordinary wailing, which seemed to come in waves round and under her bed.
We naturally looked everywhere to try and find the cause, but in vain. The nurse and I looked at one another,
but made no remark, as my mother did not seem to hear it. My sister was downstairs sitting with my father.
She heard it, and thought some terrible thing had happened to her little boy, who was in bed upstairs. She
rushed up, and found him sleeping quietly. My father did not hear it. In the house next door they heard it, and
ran downstairs, thinking something had happened to the servant; but the latter at once said to them, 'Did you
hear the Banshee? Mrs. P---- must be dying.''
A few years ago (i.e. before 1894) a curious incident occurred in a public school in connection with the belief
in the Banshee. One of the boys, happening to become ill, was at once placed in a room by himself, where he
used to sit all day. On one occasion, as he was being visited by the doctor, he suddenly started up from his
seat, and affirmed that he heard somebody crying. The doctor, of course, who could hear or see nothing, came
to the conclusion that the illness had slightly affected his brain. However, the boy, who appeared quite
sensible, still persisted that he heard some one crying, and furthermore said, '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.[G]
That the Banshee is not confined within the geographical limits of Ireland, but that she can follow the fortunes
of a family abroad, and there foretell their death, is clearly shown by the following story. A party of visitors
were gathered together on the deck of a private yacht on one of the Italian lakes, and during a lull in the
conversation one of them, a Colonel, said to the owner, 'Count, who's that queer-looking woman you have on
board?' The Count replied that there was nobody except the ladies present, and the stewardess, but the
speaker protested that he was correct, and suddenly, with a scream of horror, he placed his hands before his
eyes, and exclaimed, 'Oh, my God, what a face!' For some time he was overcome with terror, and at length
reluctantly looked up, and cried:
'Thank Heavens, it's gone!'
'What was it?' asked the Count.
'Nothing human,' replied the Colonel--'nothing belonging to this world. It was a woman of no earthly type,
with a queer-shaped, gleaming face, a mass of red hair, and eyes that would have been beautiful but for their
expression, which was hellish. She had on a green hood, after the fashion of an Irish peasant.'
An American lady present suggested that the description tallied with that of the Banshee, upon which the
'I am an O'Neill--at least I am descended from one. My family name is, as you know, Neilsini, which, little
more than a century ago, was O'Neill. My great-grandfather served in the Irish Brigade, and on its dissolution
at the time of the French Revolution had the good fortune to escape the general massacre of officers, and in
company with an O'Brien and a Maguire fled across the frontier and settled in Italy. On his death his son, who
had been born in Italy, and was far more Italian than Irish, changed his name to Neilsini, by which name the
family has been known ever since. But for all that we are Irish.'
'The Banshee was yours, then!' ejaculated the Colonel. 'What exactly does it mean?'
'It means,' the Count replied solemnly, 'the death of some one very nearly associated with me. Pray Heaven
it is not my wife or daughter.'
On that score, however, his anxiety was speedily removed, for within two hours he was seized with a violent
attack of angina pectoris, and died before morning.[H]
Mr. Elliott O'Donnell, to whose article on 'Banshees' we are indebted for the above, adds: 'The Banshee
never manifests itself to the person whose death it is prognosticating. Other people may see or hear it, but the
fated one never, so that when every one present is aware of it but one, the fate of that one may be regarded as
pretty well certain.'
[E] From 'True Irish Ghost Stories.'
[F] Scott's Lady of the Lake, notes to Canto III (edition of 1811).
[G] A.G. Bradley, Notes on some Irish Superstitions, p. 9.
[H] Occult Review for September, 1913.