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    Symbols/Myths/Legends
    Banshee

    The bean-sidhe (woman of the fairy) may be an ancestral spirit appointed to forewarn members of certain ancient Irish families of their time of death. According to tradition, the banshee can only cry for five major Irish families: the OíNeillís, the OíBrienís, the OíConnorís, the O'Gradys and the Kavanaghs. Intermarriage has since extended this select list. The banshee appears in one of three guises: a young woman, a stately matron or a raddled old Hag.

    These represent the triple aspects of the Celtic goddess of war and death, namely Badhbh, Macha and Mor-Rioghain.

    She usually wears either a grey, hooded cloak or the winding sheet or grave robe of the unshriven dead. She may also appear as a washer-woman, and is seen apparently washing the blood stained clothes of those who are about to die. In this guise she is known as the bean-nighe or washing woman.

    Although not always seen, her mourning call is heard, usually at night when someone is about to die.

    The banshee may also appear in a variety of other forms, such as that of a hooded crow, stoat, hare and weasel - animals associated in Ireland with witchcraft.

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