>A banshee is a variety of female sidhe (shee) or fairy. HOW a banshee comes
>into being is a matter of debate. I've heard they were victims of violent
>death as well as women who died in childbirth (there's another sidhe called a
>bean-nighe who fits this description as well; the bean nighe can be seen
>sitting along streambanks washing the garments of those soon to die).
>The banshee's howl fills those who hear it with terror. Often she is said
>to appear near where a death will occur as a bearer of bad tidings. It is
>pretty bad luck to hear one in any case!!
As I understand it, the name is from ben (woman) and si/d (fairy mound). A
number of the earliest Irish tales have people going into or coming out of
mounds, with magical consequences. It is an understandable motif where there
are ancient burial mounds. The banshees were spooky but did not always signify
death - one incident that comes to mind is where a man, with otherworld blood
in him, is wounded. The banshees take him away and tend him till he is better.
I *think* it's in Ta/in Bo/ Frai/ch (the cattle raid of Fraich).
Oxford [log in to unmask]