Banshee ~ Real or Myth?

What is a BANSHEE?


A Banshee is said to be sort of a fairy in Irish & Scottish legend and folklore, thus giving her the nickname Faerie woman. Her scream (“caoine”) or keening is to be an omen of death! Did you know that there are actually good and evil Banshees?¬†Some believe that she acts as an escort to ensure that their loved one passes safely to the other side.

Stories of Banshees are actually common. Irish folklore they are known as Bean Sidh. In Scottish folklore, they are called Bean Nighe. She has at times been described seen combing or brushing her long hair as she keens. The Banshee has also been seen washing bloody clothing which supposedly belongs to the person whose death is near. This gives to her nickname as “Washer Woman”.

When you think of a Banshee, what do you imagine? A floating “ghost-like” woman with long flowing hair that appears quite frightening? Well here’s some information that might change your mind.

A Banshee is actually a disembodied spirit that can appear in many forms, such as:

  • A woman with long flowing hair, dressed in a long silver dress with silver hair.
  • A beautiful woman wearing a shroud.
  • An old woman with frighteningly dreadful red eyes in a green dress with long white hair.
  • An old woman with a veil covering her face, dressed in black with long gray hair.
  • A headless woman carrying a bowl of blood that is naked from the waist up.
  • A deathly pale woman with long red hair dressed in a white dress sometimes a shroud.
  • Those are just a few forms.


The Banshee has been traced back to the 8th century. Those stories were based on the tradition of a woman who sang a sorrowful song to lament the death of someone. The women were known as “keeners”. They would accept alcohol as payment and said to be sinners. They were punished by being doomed to become Banshees. The mythology of the Banshee says that if she is spotted, she will vanish into a cloud of mist, which creates a noise similar to that of a bird flapping its wings. The legend says that Banshees do not cause death, they only serve a warning of impending death.


Not all Banshees are evil, hate-filled specters. There are some that had strong ties to their families in life, so they continue to watch over them in death. Whenever they manifest themselves, they appear as beautiful and enchanting women that sing sorrowful, haunting songs that are filled with concern and love for their families. The song can be heard up to a few days before the death of a family member. In most of those cases, the song can only be heard by the person for whom the song is intended for.

However, on the flip side, there is the angry and often times scary Banshee. This is the one you usually hear about. These women, during their lives, had hateful relationships with their families. They appear distorted and frightening, filled with hatred. They howl horribly to the point it will chill you to the bone rather than appearing to warn a family member. Those kinds of Banshees are happy with the future demise of someone they hated in life.


In other Irish mythology stories, the Banshee is the ghost of a young girl who suffered a brutal death. Her spirit remains to warn other family members that a violent death is imminent.

She has appeared as an old woman with rotting teeth, long fingernails and blood red eyes filled with hate. She wears rags and when she directs her hate-filled gaze directly at the person, it causes their immediate death. Her mouth is always open as her piercing scream torments the livings souls.

Some tales tell of the evil Banshee that takes thrill in the pleasure of taking a life. They will actively seek out a victim and wail at them to the point that the person either commits suicide or goes insane. There are Banshees that tear people to shreds.

Again not all Banshees are that way. They don’t bring death so much as they warn of death to come. They give the family time to prepare for what is inevitable to come.


Does anyone really know where Banshees get their knowledge of someone’s death from? One of the theories is that each family member has his or her own personal spirit that follows them around to report information back to the Banshee. That theory is a belief that is dying out as the tale of the Banshee has come down to a spooky tale told at bedtime or perhaps around a campfire at night. There are many who have had personal encounters with that theory that may disagree.

Did you know that several centuries ago, in Ireland, the belief in the Banshee was said to be blasphemous? The legend of the Banshee certainly falls into myth and superstition categories.

There are a great many stories of people who have encountered a Banshee or have tales of their loved ones or acquaintances who have encountered one. All you have to do is a search and you can read them.

Have you had an encounter or know someone who has? Please share your story as a comment to this article. We welcome this and would love to hear from you.

I am a published author that specializes in stories of paranormal, supernatural and children's books. My books are available as Kindle or paperback versions on Amazon. I have had many personal paranormal experiences besides having the best (late) Grandmother who could spin the best ghost stories ever.


  1. Kim Cunningham

    December 1, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    I enjoyed your artical. I believed this was just another tale seen on tv or shared stories at campfires. Both my father and I have/had sensative ability. Something he never shared until three years ago because he didn’t want people to think he was crazy. It was okay that I sounded crazy and was I ever relieved when what I heard was heard or seen by him. I moved home to be with my father when my mother had to go into convalescent care. My fathers health was pretty bad too. One evening he was downstairs at the kitchen table and I upstairs in my room. All of the sudden this scream came from the center of the house, a scream that turned your blood cold,every hair on my body was raised, that scream had me running towards him and he headed my direction. We each shouted to one another if we were ok. Then I asked where is the cat. Dad said she was with him it wasn’t her. He asked about the dogs which I had. We then searched outside the home but both of us knew and discussed it was most definitely inside that house. He asked what I thought it was. I told him there is said before a death a Banshee will scream that it means a death is coming and if you see the Banshee it is you that will pass. I then laughed and told him how my Grandmother would joke,” When I come back I am coming back as a Banshee!” It was probably her letting us know she is around. Six weeks later my Dad didn’t come down for coffee. I waited getting my courage up knowing the reason why. When I went in he looked so beautiful. I never saw my father ever look so peaceful. He passed in his sleep how he hoped to go. I believe 100% what we heard was indeed a Banshee I hope I never hear it again once you have heard it you will never forget.

    • Bruce Homan

      January 15, 2019 at 6:13 pm

      My name is Bruce Homan in 2007 I was in sequim Washington at a friend’s house and was heading to another friend’s house on Cassidy Creek Rd. As I was jumping over a fence I started to hear a noise that completely paralized my whole body. It sounded like a child a woman and an old lady crying screaming laughing allat the same time. I forced my self to turn around because I could tell what direction the sound was coming from.while this was happening it felt like I was dying literally once I was fully turned around about 100 to 75 yards away I saw a ball of light approximately ten to fifteen feet in size in side the ball is what looked like an old woman with long arms and long hair that flowed all around her body and seem to float it was in the tree tops across a feild and across the road I tried to run but it was like there was something in the noise it was making that was making it so I couldn’t move I eventually began to be able to move and started to eventually run as fast as I could as I looked back I seen that it started to give chase and as it was it was breaking tree tops a branches as thick as my arm and bigger.when I got to my freind driveway I looked back one last time and it was only about 30 ft away I ran with everything I had and thank God I made it to the clearing where my friends place is when I came to clearing my friends dad and one of his friends looked up as they heard my running footsteps when I knew they could see me I instantly felt the presence was gone when I walked by them tomorrow my friends dad could tell there was something wrong with me he asked me if I was ok I didn’t want him to think I was crazy so I said nothing I went inside and hit the couch and fell asleep instantly because the experience completely drained me the next morning I needed a ride to home and Tom’s freind gave me a ride when we got to end of driveway he noticed all the branches and tree tops that littered the side of the road and said that’s weird the county was just out here and cleaned all that stuff up I still said nothing. This experience changed my life forever I have become increasingly paranoid about this ever happing again.if anyone has had a similar experience please contact me my name is Bruce w Homan. Everything I have told is 100 percent true

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