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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Banshee - Patricia Lysaght

The Banshee: The Irish Death Messenger by Patricia Lysaght is a detailed delve into this fascinating piece of mythology.

Banshee is one of the lesser known myths of Ireland, yet it is popular in Ireland itself.  The Banshee is known by many names around Ireland, including baen síh, banshee, ban chaointe, and badhbh.  While these names are quite different they are each known for their wailing to announce the death of a person.  In some areas these beings are attached to specific families, while in others they are attached to the area or those who were born in the area.

What the death messenger wore, what she looked like, and her accessories varied from area to area.  Sometimes she came whisking through town, while in others she would only cry from a particular place.  Her death song was likened to many animals: fox, owl, cat, and many others.  It was always noted that somehow it had an otherworldly sound to it, though.  Very rarely, however, was she actually associated with these animals.

With extensive research, the author details the tradition of the Banshee in her many forms.  The author pulls from archives and questionnaires of Ireland and Irish people.  Half of the book is actually appendixes, notes, references, and bibliography.  Due to the academic tone of the narrative, some readers may find it difficult to immerse themselves.  However, the information is in depth and definitely worth reading for those who are interested in this fascinating being.

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