It is St. Patrick's Day and the joy of Irish laughter is disrupted by the fearsome howl of the Banshee.
Neighbors from far and wide come to their doors in trepidation. Hands cover their ears at the terrifying sound.
The bean-sidhe (woman of the fairy) is the 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 O'Neills, the O'Briens, the O'Connors, the O'Gradys and the Kavanaghs.
But there are none of these families in the neighbourhood. The neighbors look with haunted suspicious one at the other. Could a Banshee be among their midst?
The banshee chiefly 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 (washing woman).
But this is a modern Canadian suburb and none of the modern women would be caught dead in anything as un-chic as the grave robe of the unshriven dead. And don't dare call any one of them a "washer-woman".
Although not always seen, the Banshee's mourning call is heard, usually at night when someone is about to die. In 1437, King James I of Scotland was approached by an Irish seeress or banshee who foretold his murder at the instigation of the Earl of Atholl. This is an example of the banshee in human form. There are records of several human banshees or prophetesses attending the great houses of Ireland and the courts of local Irish kings. In some parts of Leinster, she is referred to as the bean chaointe (keening woman) whose wail can be so piercing that it shatters glass.
The neighbors fall to their knees in agony as the screams continue.
But then Linda sticks her head out the front door to apologize. "Sorry, sorry" she calls over the piteous wails. "Its only Barry. He hasn't had coffee in a week!"
"Ah, the poor, wee bairn," the neighbors reply in unison. "Could you no put a bullet through his head an put him, and us, out of his misery?"
If he doesn't shut up soon, Linda agrees to think about it.
With a little help from Wikipedia
Images from Photopbucket
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